Evidence for Stopping Behavior, Not Delayed Reproduction, as the Driving Force of Fertility Transition among Lehrerleut Hutterites of Montana

Kimber Haddix McKay, University of Montana
Apryle Pickering, University of Montana

In this paper we describe research conducted from 2004 - present among a socially and religiously conservative sect of German-speaking Anabaptist Hutterites living in colonies in Montana. While every demographer in the world knows of the Hutterites of North America, the recent dramatic transition to lower fertility in this community is less known, and is poorly understood. Using both retrospective and on-the-ground qualitative ethnographic data, this study breaks new ground both methodologically and theoretically in the study of fertility transition among Hutterites. Our data show that, like other populations in which a high social value is placed on the production of children, the recent remarkable drop in Hutterite fertility is being achieved via stopping behavior, or early attenuation of reproductive period through the use of contraception. We discuss the significance of this finding in light of Hutterite religiosity and communalism, and in the context of recent developments in evolutionary demography.

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Presented in Poster Session 5