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A Model of Voluntary Childlessness

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  • Paula E. GOBBI

    ()
    (UNIVERSITE CATHOLIQUE DE LOUVAIN, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES))

Abstract

Demographers and sociologists have studied and asked for a theory of childlessness for more than two decades, however, this specific choice of zero fertility has not interested economists. Nowadays, facts show us that permanent childlessness can concern up to 30% of all women of a cohort. This paper gives an endogenous fertility model that looks in detail to the mechanisms leading to fluctuations in childlessness. Two mechanisms are considered. The first mechanism goes through the inter-generational evolution of preferences, that can be either exogenous or endogenous. I show that under some values of the parameters, oscillatory dynamics of childlessness may arise. The second mechanism goes through the female labor market; a more gender parity labor environment and an increase in the fixed cost of becoming parents could be an explanation for the dynamics of fertility and childlessness that we have observed in the United States since the early nineteenth century.

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Paper provided by Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES) in its series Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) with number 2011001.

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Length: 43
Date of creation: 31 Jan 2011
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Handle: RePEc:ctl:louvir:2011001

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  1. Thomas BAUDIN & David de la CROIX & Paula GOBBI, 2012. "DINKs, DEWKs & Co. Marriage, Fertility and Childlessness in the United States," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2012013, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
  2. Yishay Maoz & Moshe Hazan & Matthias Doepke, 2008. "The Baby Boom and World War II: A Macroeconomic Analysis," 2008 Meeting Papers 668, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  3. Bisin, Alberto & Verdier, Thierry, 2001. "The Economics of Cultural Transmission and the Dynamics of Preferences," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 97(2), pages 298-319, April.
  4. Oded Galor & David N. Weil, 1993. "The Gender Gap, Fertility, and Growth," NBER Working Papers 4550, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. DE LA CROIX, David & DOEPKE, Matthias, . "Inequality and growth: why differential fertility matters," CORE Discussion Papers RP -1676, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  6. McElroy, Marjorie B & Horney, Mary Jean, 1981. "Nash-Bargained Household Decisions: Toward a Generalization of the Theory of Demand," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 22(2), pages 333-49, June.
  7. Daron Acemoglu & David H. Autor & David Lyle, 2004. "Women, War, and Wages: The Effect of Female Labor Supply on the Wage Structure at Midcentury," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(3), pages 497-551, June.
  8. Maria Letizia Tanturri & Letizia Mencarini, 2008. "Childless or Childfree? Paths to Voluntary Childlessness in Italy," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 34(1), pages 51-77.
  9. Agnese Vitali & Francesco C. Billari & Alexia Prskawetz & Maria Rita Testa, 2009. "Preference Theory and Low Fertility: A Comparative Perspective," European Demographic Research Papers 0702, Vienna Institute of Demography (VID) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna.
  10. Jonathan Skinner, 1991. "Housing and Saving in the United States," NBER Working Papers 3874, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Maurizio Mazzocco, 2007. "Household Intertemporal Behaviour: A Collective Characterization and a Test of Commitment," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(3), pages 857-895.
  12. Manser, Marilyn & Brown, Murray, 1980. "Marriage and Household Decision-Making: A Bargaining Analysis," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 21(1), pages 31-44, February.
  13. Claudia Goldin, 1990. "Understanding the Gender Gap: An Economic History of American Women," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gold90-1, octubre-d.
  14. Letizia Mencarini & Maria Letizia Tanturri, 2006. "High Fertility or Childlessness: Micro-Level Determinants of Reproductive Behaviour in Italy," Population (english edition), Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED), vol. 61(4), pages 389-415.
  15. O'Neill, June & Polachek, Solomon, 1993. "Why the Gender Gap in Wages Narrowed in the 1980s," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(1), pages 205-28, January.
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Cited by:
  1. Thomas BAUDIN & David de la CROIX & Paula GOBBI, 2012. "DINKs, DEWKs & Co. Marriage, Fertility and Childlessness in the United States," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2012013, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).

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