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A model of voluntary childlessness

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  • Paula Gobbi

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Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

  • Paula Gobbi, 2013. "A model of voluntary childlessness," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 26(3), pages 963-982, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:jopoec:v:26:y:2013:i:3:p:963-982 DOI: 10.1007/s00148-012-0457-1
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Battaglia, Marianna & Chabé-Ferret, Bastien & Lebedinski, Lara, 2017. "Segregation and Fertility: The Case of the Roma in Serbia," IZA Discussion Papers 10929, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. David de la Croix & Eric B. Schneider & Jacob Weisdorf, 2017. ""Decessit sine prole" Childlessness, Celibacy, and Survival of the Richest in Pre-Industrial England," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2017001, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    3. Melvyn G. Coles & Marco Francesconi, 2013. "Equilibrium Search and the Impact of Equal Opportunities for Women," CESifo Working Paper Series 4556, CESifo Group Munich.
    4. Lucia Granelli, 2016. "Family Tax Policy in a Model with Endogenous Fertility à la Barro-Becker," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2016010, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    5. Thomas Baudin & David de la Croix & Paula E. Gobbi, 2015. "Fertility and Childlessness in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 1852-1882.
    6. Baudin, Thomas & de la Croix, David & Gobbi, Paula, 2017. "Endogenous Childlessness and Stages of Development," CEPR Discussion Papers 12071, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. Thomas Baudin & David de la Croix & Paula E. Gobbi, 2015. "Fertility and Childlessness in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 1852-1882.
    8. Daniel Aaronson & Fabian Lange & Bhashkar Mazumder, 2014. "Fertility Transitions along the Extensive and Intensive Margins," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 3701-3724.
    9. Sandra Brée & David de la Croix, 2016. "Key Forces Behind the Decline of Fertility: Lessons from Childlessness in Rouen before the Industrial Revolution," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2016014, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    10. Johanna Etner & Natacha Raffin & Thomas Seegmuller, 2016. ""The Falling Sperm Counts Story": A Limit to Growth?," AMSE Working Papers 1625, Aix-Marseille School of Economics, Marseille, France, revised 04 Jul 2016.
    11. Thomas BAUDIN & David de la CROIX & Paula GOBBI, 2015. "Development Policies when Accounting for the Extensive Margin of Fertility," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2015003, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    12. Momota, Akira, 2016. "Intensive and extensive margins of fertility, capital accumulation, and economic welfare," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, pages 90-110.
    13. Akira Momota, 2015. "Intensive and Extensive Margins of Fertility, Capital Accumulation, and Economic Welfare," KIER Working Papers 917, Kyoto University, Institute of Economic Research.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Fertility; Childlessness; Female labor-market participation; J11; J13; O11;

    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
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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