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Real options and demographic decisions: empirical evidence from East and West Germany

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  • Sumon Kumar Bhaumik
  • Jeffrey Nugent

Abstract

Iyer and Velu (2006) have convincingly argued that contemporary analyses of fertility behaviour fail to explain why a woman (or a couple) will choose to postpone childbirth, and in particular to consider the role of uncertainty in this regard. They have addressed this lacuna in the literature by using a real options approach to model fertility decisions by relating uncertainty experienced by individuals to the likelihood of childbirth. However, they did not present empirical evidence. Since the theory implies the existence of two offsetting effects of uncertainty on fertility decisions, a positive insurance effect and a negative option value effect, it is not easy to reject the theory on the basis of empirical analysis, when one of these effects offsets the other. We construct such a test for East (and also West) Germany during that country's reunification, which takes advantage of the fact that because of the country's strong welfare system, the insurance effect should be dominated by the option value effect, thereby suggesting that the net relationship should be negative. The results provide rather strong support for the real options link, especially for Eastern Germany.

Suggested Citation

  • Sumon Kumar Bhaumik & Jeffrey Nugent, 2011. "Real options and demographic decisions: empirical evidence from East and West Germany," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(21), pages 2739-2749.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:applec:v:43:y:2011:i:21:p:2739-2749
    DOI: 10.1080/00036840903373287
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Bonin, Holger & Euwals, Rob, 2001. "Participation Behavior of East German Women after German Unification," IZA Discussion Papers 413, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
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    Cited by:

    1. Wolfgang Auer & Natalia Danzer & Anita Fichtl, 2015. "Ökonomische Unsicherheit: Befristete Verträge erschweren Familiengründung," ifo Schnelldienst, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 68(18), pages 35-41, September.
    2. Prifti, Ervin & Vuri, Daniela, 2013. "Employment protection and fertility: Evidence from the 1990 Italian reform," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(C), pages 77-88.
    3. Arnaud Chevalier & Olivier Marie, 2013. "Economic Uncertainty, Parental Selection, and the Criminal Activity of the "Children of the Wall"," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 605, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    4. Wolfgang Auer & Natalia Danzer, 2016. "Fixed-Term Employment and Fertility: Evidence from German Micro Data," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 62(4), pages 595-623.
    5. Liepmann, Hannah, 2018. "The impact of a negative labor demand shock on fertility – Evidence from the fall of the Berlin Wall," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 210-224.
    6. Wolfgang Auer, 2018. "Empirische Aufsätze zu den sozioökonomischen Konsequenzen von ökonomischer Unsicherheit," ifo Beiträge zur Wirtschaftsforschung, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, number 79.
    7. Daniele Vignoli & Raffaele Guetto & Giacomo Bazzani & Elena Pirani & Alessandra Minello, 2020. "Economic Uncertainty and Fertility in Europe: Narratives of the Future," Econometrics Working Papers Archive 2020_01, Universita' degli Studi di Firenze, Dipartimento di Statistica, Informatica, Applicazioni "G. Parenti".
    8. Chiara L. Comolli & Daniele Vignoli, 2019. "Spread-ing uncertainty, shrinking birth rates," Econometrics Working Papers Archive 2019_08, Universita' degli Studi di Firenze, Dipartimento di Statistica, Informatica, Applicazioni "G. Parenti".
    9. Arianna Gatta & Francesco Mattioli & Letizia Mencarini & Daniele Vignoli, 2019. "Employment Uncertainty and Fertility Intentions: Stability or Resilience?," Econometrics Working Papers Archive 2019_12, Universita' degli Studi di Firenze, Dipartimento di Statistica, Informatica, Applicazioni "G. Parenti".
    10. Danilo Bolano & Daniele Vignoli, 2020. "First Union Formation in Australia: Actual Constraints or Perceived Uncertainty?," Econometrics Working Papers Archive 2020_07, Universita' degli Studi di Firenze, Dipartimento di Statistica, Informatica, Applicazioni "G. Parenti".
    11. Kyungwon Kim & Jae Wook Song, 2018. "Managing Bubbles in the Korean Real Estate Market: A Real Options Framework," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 10(8), pages 1-25, August.
    12. Kelvin K. C. Seah, 2018. "The effect of immigration shocks on native fertility outcomes: evidence from a natural experiment," IZA Journal of Migration and Development, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 8(1), pages 1-34, December.

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