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The Timing of Childbearing among Heterogeneous Women in Dynamic General Equilibrium

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  • Charles H. Mullin
  • Ping Wang

Abstract

We develop a tractable framework with a fully specified dynamic process of demographic and labor decisions over an individual female's life span to determine the timing of childbearing. Fertility affects women's behavior through three channels: its tradeoff with leisure, its interactions with human capital investment, and its cost in terms of lost market productivity. Instead of numerically solving a discrete-time version of the model, we propose an alternative solution technique that provides analytic, closed-form solutions for the continuous-time dynamic optimization problem with (discrete) time-line variables. The analytic results indicate that (i) increased impatience has an ambiguous effect on childbearing timing; (ii) the age at first birth rises at an increasing rate with the productivity loss from children; and (iii) women of greater ability have births at later ages and are more sensitive to parameter changes. Calibration exercises suggest that focusing on the median female's response to changes in the preference, cost, and technology parameters fails to capture their important distributional effects.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9231.

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Date of creation: Sep 2002
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9231

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  1. Ronald Lee, 1987. "Population dynamics of humans and other animals," Demography, Springer, vol. 24(4), pages 443-465, November.
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  16. Wang, P. & Yip, C.K. & Scotese, C.A., 1991. "Fertility Choice and Economic Growth: Theory and Evidence," Papers 6-91-3, Pennsylvania State - Department of Economics.
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Cited by:
  1. Lucie Schmidt, 2007. "Risk Preferences and the Timing of Marriage and Childbearing," Department of Economics Working Papers 2007-03, Department of Economics, Williams College.
  2. Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes & Jean Kimmel, 2005. "“The Motherhood Wage Gap for Women in the United States: The Importance of College and Fertility Delay”," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 3(1), pages 17-48, 09.
  3. Momota, Akira & Horii, Ryo, 2011. "Timing of childbirth, capital accumulation, and economic welfare," MPRA Paper 34088, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Michelle Sheran Sylvester, 2007. "The Career and Family Choices of Women: A Dynamic Analysis of Labor Force Participation, Schooling, Marriage and Fertility Decisions," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 10(3), pages 367-399, July.
  5. Fort, Margherita, 2005. "Education and timing of births: evidence from a natural experiment in Italy," ISER Working Paper Series 2005-20, Institute for Social and Economic Research.

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