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Fertility and Childlessness in the United States

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  • Thomas Baudin
  • David de la Croix
  • Paula E. Gobbi

Abstract

We develop a theory of fertility, distinguishing its intensive margin from its extensive margin. The deep parameters are identified using facts from the 1990 US Census: (i) fertility of mothers decreases with education; (ii) childlessness exhibits a U-shaped relationship with education; (iii) the relationship between marriage rates and education is hump-shaped for women and increasing for men. We estimate that 2.5 percent of women were childless because of poverty and 8.1 percent because of high opportunity cost of childrearing. Over time, historical trends in total factor productivity and in education led to a U-shaped response in childlessness rates while fertility of mothers decreased. (JEL I20, J13, J16, N31, N32)

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas Baudin & David de la Croix & Paula E. Gobbi, 2015. "Fertility and Childlessness in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(6), pages 1852-1882, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:105:y:2015:i:6:p:1852-82
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.20120926
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • N31 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • N32 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-

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