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A model of voluntary childlessness

  • Paula Gobbi

    ()

Demographers and sociologists have studied why women remain childless for more than two decades; however, this specific choice of zero fertility has not interested economists. Permanent childlessness, in developed countries, can concern up to 30 % of the women in a cohort. Childlessness rates can be positively related to average fertility for some cohorts of women. This paper provides an explanation for this using an endogenous fertility model where individuals have different preferences for children. The main mechanism considered goes through the intergenerational evolution of preferences: I show that a reduction in the gender wage gap, or an increase in the fixed cost of becoming a parent, has a negative effect on both fertility and childlessness. The reduction of childlessness is due to a composition effect: small families shrink more than larger families, and this reduces childlessness. Copyright Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s00148-012-0457-1
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Article provided by Springer in its journal Journal of Population Economics.

Volume (Year): 26 (2013)
Issue (Month): 3 (July)
Pages: 963-982

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Handle: RePEc:spr:jopoec:v:26:y:2013:i:3:p:963-982
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  1. David de la Croix & Matthias Doepke, 2001. "Inequality and Growth: Why Differential Fertility Matters," UCLA Economics Working Papers 803, UCLA Department of Economics.
  2. Galor, Oded & Weil, David, 1995. "The Gender Gap, Fertility and Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 1157, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  8. Manser, Marilyn & Brown, Murray, 1980. "Marriage and Household Decision-Making: A Bargaining Analysis," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 21(1), pages 31-44, February.
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  10. Goldin, Claudia, 1992. "Understanding the Gender Gap: An Economic History of American Women," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195072709, March.
  11. Maria Letizia Tanturri & Letizia Mencarini, 2008. "Childless or Childfree? Paths to Voluntary Childlessness in Italy," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 34(1), pages 51-77.
  12. Jonathan S. Skinner, 1994. "Housing and Saving in the United States," NBER Chapters, in: Housing Markets in the United States and Japan, pages 191-214 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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