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Are Children “Normal”?

  • Dan A. Black

    (University of Chicago, IZA, and NORC)

  • Natalia Kolesnikova

    (Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and nowat the University of Mississippi)

  • Seth G. Sanders

    (Duke University)

  • Lowell J. Taylor

    (Carnegie Mellon University and NORC)

We examine Becker's (1960) contention that children are “normal.” For the cross-section of non-Hispanic white married couples in the United States, we show that when we restrict comparisons to similarly educated women living in similarly expensive locations, completed fertility is positively correlated with the husband's income. The empirical evidence is consistent with children being “normal.” In an effort to show causal effects, we analyze the localized impact on fertility of the mid-1970s' increase in world energy prices, an exogenous shock that substantially increased men's incomes in the Appalachian coal-mining region. Empirical evidence for that population indicates that fertility increases with men's income. © 2013 The President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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File URL: http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1162/REST_a_00257
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Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Review of Economics and Statistics.

Volume (Year): 95 (2013)
Issue (Month): 1 (March)
Pages: 21-33

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:95:y:2013:i:1:p:21-33
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  1. Lalive, Rafael & Zweimüller, Josef, 2005. "Does Parental Leave Affect Fertility and Return-to-Work? Evidence from a "True Natural Experiment"," IZA Discussion Papers 1613, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Dan Black & Terra McKinnish & Seth Sanders, 2005. "The Economic Impact Of The Coal Boom And Bust," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(503), pages 449-476, 04.
  3. Mary Borg, 1989. "The Income-Fertility Relationship: Effect of the Net Price of a Child," Demography, Springer, vol. 26(2), pages 301-310, May.
  4. Larry E. Jones & Michele Tertilt, 2006. "An Economic History of Fertility in the U.S.: 1826-1960," NBER Working Papers 12796, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Hotz, V Joseph & Miller, Robert A, 1988. "An Empirical Analysis of Life Cycle Fertility and Female Labor Supply," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(1), pages 91-118, January.
  6. Roback, Jennifer, 1982. "Wages, Rents, and the Quality of Life," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(6), pages 1257-78, December.
  7. Simon, Curtis & Tamura, Robert, 2008. "Do higher rents discourage fertility? evidence from U.S. cities, 1940-2000," MPRA Paper 7721, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  8. Angrist, Joshua D & Evans, William N, 1998. "Children and Their Parents' Labor Supply: Evidence from Exogenous Variation in Family Size," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 450-77, June.
  9. Becker, Gary S & Lewis, H Gregg, 1973. "On the Interaction between the Quantity and Quality of Children," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(2), pages S279-88, Part II, .
  10. Dan Black & Kermit Daniel & Seth Sanders, 2002. "The Impact of Economic Conditions on Participation in Disability Programs: Evidence from the Coal Boom and Bust," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 27-50, March.
  11. Heckman, James J & Walker, James R, 1990. "The Relationship between Wages and Income and the Timing and Spacing of Births: Evidence from Swedish Longitudinal Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(6), pages 1411-41, November.
  12. Willis, Robert J, 1973. "A New Approach to the Economic Theory of Fertility Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(2), pages S14-64, Part II, .
  13. Black, Dan & Gates, Gary & Sanders, Seth & Taylor, Lowell, 2002. "Why Do Gay Men Live in San Francisco?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 54-76, January.
  14. Black, Dan & Sanders, Seth & Taylor, Lowell, 2003. "Measurement of Higher Education in the Census and Current Population Survey," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 98, pages 545-554, January.
  15. Schultz, T Paul, 1985. "Changing World Prices, Women's Wages, and the Fertility Transition: Sweden, 1860-1910," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(6), pages 1126-54, December.
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