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Children and the Wealth of Nations

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  • Juan Cordoba

    (Iowa State University)

Abstract

The welfare of an individual depends on the quality and quantity of life. The quantity of life itself depends on longevity but also on the number of descendants. Specifically, children, grandchildren, etc, offer an alternative way to extend life for altruistic parents. Everything else equal, a lower fertility rate reduces the welfare of altruistic parents. This paper incorporates fertility into an overall assessment of the degree and evolution of cross-country inequality around the world and shows that it is quantitatively important. Our calculations suggest a major quantity-quantity trade-off: for the period 1970-2005, the overall welfare gains due to longevity improvements were mostly offset by the welfare loss due fertility reductions. The effective quantity of life remained roughly constant.

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Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2012 Meeting Papers with number 1052.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:red:sed012:1052

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  1. Birchenall, Javier A. & Soares, Rodrigo R., 2007. "Altruism, Fertility, and the Value of Children: Health Policy Evaluation and Intergenerational Welfare," IZA Discussion Papers 2783, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Cordoba, Juan Carlos & Ripoll, Marla, 2011. "A Contribution to the Economic Theory of Fertility," Staff General Research Papers 33899, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  3. Gary S. Becker & Tomas J. Philipson & Rodrigo R. Soares, 2003. "The Quantity and Quality of Life and the Evolution of World Inequality," NBER Working Papers 9765, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Kevin M. Murphy & Robert H. Topel, 2006. "The Value of Health and Longevity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(5), pages 871-904, October.
  5. Viscusi, W Kip, 1993. "The Value of Risks to Life and Health," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 31(4), pages 1912-46, December.
  6. Rodolfo E. Manuelli & Ananth Seshadri, 2009. "Explaining International Fertility Differences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 124(2), pages 771-807, May.
  7. Cordoba, Juan Carlos & Verdier, Genevieve, 2010. "Inequality and Growth: Some Welfare Calculations," Staff General Research Papers 32119, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  8. Cordoba, Juan Carlos & Ripoll, Marla, 2012. "Life, Death and World Inequality," Staff General Research Papers 34945, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
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