Abstract

Study of a sample of 605 newspaper articles produced between 1903 and 1908 tracks Americans' explanations for fertility decline, demonstrating the perceived importance of economic and “cosmic” factors but arguing that these factors and others are best understood in the context of individual-level moral views. For contemporaries seeking to explain the trend toward smaller families, the most significant frames of analysis involved dichotomies concerning self and society, worldliness and transcendence, and near- and long-term sensibilities about time.

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