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Fertility and the Easterlin hypothesis: An assessment of the literature

Author

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  • Diane J. Macunovich

    () (Maxwell Center for Policy Research, 426 Eggers Hall, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY 13244-1020, USA)

Abstract

Focusing just on the fertility aspects of the Easterlin hypothesis, this paper offers a critical assessment - rather than just a selective citation - of the extensive fertility literature generated by Easterlin, and a complete inventory of data and methodologies in seventy-six published analyses. With an equal number of micro- and macro-level analyses using North American data (twenty-two), the "track record" of the hypothesis is the same in both venues, with fifteen providing significant support in each case. The literature suggests unequivocal support for the relativity of the income concept in fertility, but is less clear regarding the source(s) of differences in material aspirations, and suggests that the observed relationship between fertility and cohort size has varied across countries and time periods due to the effects of additional factors not included in most models.

Suggested Citation

  • Diane J. Macunovich, 1998. "Fertility and the Easterlin hypothesis: An assessment of the literature," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 11(1), pages 53-111.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:jopoec:v:11:y:1998:i:1:p:53-111
    Note: Received: 16 July 1996 / Accepted: 26 September 1997
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Easterlin · relative income · fertility;

    JEL classification:

    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • N3 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy

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