Do women delay family formation in expensive housing markets?
Recent research by demographers and economists has examined the link between living costs and fertility outcomes. The literature has provided some evidence that high rents, or high housing costs, discourage fertility. A re-examination of that hypothesis with recent micro data from the US confirms some of the general observations about delayed fertility but the research in this paper suggests that the effect of expensive markets may be more to delay fertility than to lower fertility. The paper reiterates the powerful effects of education, ethnicity and labor market participation on fertility outcomes but it also extends those findings by showing that fertility outcomes have strong geographic contexts. The effect of being in an expensive housing market delays first births by three to four years. At the same time the relatively modest fit of individual models suggest that while the housing market may play a role it is also clear that there is a complex structure to the decision making around fertility, labor force participation and housing market entry.
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