IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this book chapter

Fertility Theories: Can They Explain the Negative Fertility-Income Relationship?

In: Demography and the Economy

  • Larry E. Jones
  • Alice Schoonbroodt
  • Michèle Tertilt

In this chapter we revisit the relationship between income and fertility. There is overwhelming empirical evidence that fertility is negatively related to income in most countries at most times. Several theories have been proposed in the literature to explain this somewhat puzzling fact. The most common one is based on the opportunity cost of time being higher for individuals with higher earnings. Alternatively, people might differ in their desire to procreate and accordingly some people invest more in children and less in market-specific human capital and thus have lower earnings. We revisit these and other possible explanations. We find that these theories are not as robust as is commonly believed. That is, several special assumptions are needed to generate the negative relationship. Not all assumptions are equally plausible. Such findings will be useful to distinguish alternative theories. We conclude that further research along these lines is needed.

(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://www.nber.org/chapters/c8406.pdf
Download Restriction: no

as
in new window

This chapter was published in:
  • John B. Shoven, 2010. "Demography and the Economy," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number shov08-1, September.
  • This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 8406.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:8406
    Contact details of provider: Postal:
    National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.

    Phone: 617-868-3900
    Web page: http://www.nber.org
    Email:


    More information through EDIRC

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

    as in new window
    1. Michael P. Keane & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 2006. "The Role of Labor and Marriage Markets, Preference Heterogeneity and the Welfare System in the Life Cycle Decisions of Black, Hispanic and White Women," PIER Working Paper Archive 06-004, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
    2. Fernando Alvarez, 1999. "Social Mobility: The Barro-Becker Children Meet the Laitner-Loury Dynasties," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 2(1), pages 65-103, January.
    3. Barro, Robert J & Becker, Gary S, 1989. "Fertility Choice in a Model of Economic Growth," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 481-501, March.
    4. Ronald Lee, 1987. "Population dynamics of humans and other animals," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 24(4), pages 443-465, November.
    5. Gary D. Hansen & Edward C. Prescott, 1998. "Malthus to Solow," NBER Working Papers 6858, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Andrés Erosa & Luisa Fuster & Diego Restuccia, 2005. "A General Equilibrium Analysis of Parental Leave Policies," Working Papers tecipa-197, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
    7. Galor, Oded, 2004. "The Demographic Transition and the Emergence of Sustained Economic Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 4714, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. Larry E. Jones & Alice Schoonbroodt, 2010. "Complements Versus Substitutes And Trends In Fertility Choice In Dynastic Models," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 51(3), pages 671-699, 08.
    9. Philip Merrigan & Yvan St-Pierre, 1995. "A Neoclassical and Econometric analysis of the Timing and Spacing of Births in Canada from 1950 to 1990," Cahiers de recherche du Département des sciences économiques, UQAM 9501, Université du Québec à Montréal, Département des sciences économiques.
    10. Jeremy Greenwood & Nezih Guner, 2006. "Social Change," 2006 Meeting Papers 79, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    11. Frédéric Docquier, 2004. "Income Distribution, Non-convexities and the Fertility-Income Relationship," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 71(281), pages 261-273, 05.
    12. Ehrlich, Isaac & Lui, Francis T, 1991. "Intergenerational Trade, Longevity, and Economic Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(5), pages 1029-59, October.
    13. Gary S. Becker & Nigel Tomes, 1976. "Child Endowments, and the Quantity and Quality of Children," NBER Working Papers 0123, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Del Boca, Daniela & Sauer, Robert M., 2006. "Life Cycle Employment and Fertility Across Institutional Environments," IZA Discussion Papers 2285, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    15. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2000. "Natural Selection and the Origin of economic Growth," Working Papers 2000-18, Brown University, Department of Economics.
    16. Angrist, Joshua & Lavy, Victor & Schlosser, Analia, 2006. "New Evidence on the Causal Link between the Quantity and Quality of Children," IZA Discussion Papers 2075, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    17. S Black & Paul Devereux & Kjell Salvanes, 2005. "The More the Merrier? The Effect of Family Size and Birth Order on Childrens Education," CEE Discussion Papers 0050, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
    18. Rosenzweig, Mark R & Wolpin, Kenneth I, 1980. "Testing the Quantity-Quality Fertility Model: The Use of Twins as a Natural Experiment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(1), pages 227-40, January.
    19. Bruno L. S. Falcao & Rodrigo R. Soares, 2007. "The Demographic Transition and the Sexual Division of Labor," NBER Working Papers 12838, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    20. Julio Cáceres-Delpiano, 2006. "The Impacts of Family Size on Investment in Child Quality," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(4).
    21. Michele Boldrin & Mariacristina De Nardi & Larry E. Jones, 2005. "Fertility and Social Security," NBER Working Papers 11146, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    22. Fleisher, Belton M & Rhodes, George F, Jr, 1979. "Fertility, Women's Wage Rates, and Labor Supply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(1), pages 14-24, March.
    23. Raquel Fernandez & Nezih Guner & John Knowles, 2001. "Love and Money: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis of Household Sorting and Inequality," NBER Working Papers 8580, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    24. Raquel Bernal, 2004. "Employment and Child Care Decisions of Mothers and the Well-being of their Children," Econometric Society 2004 North American Winter Meetings 361, Econometric Society.
    25. Galor, Oded & Weil, David, 1999. "From Malthusian Stagnation to Modern Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 2082, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    26. Kai Zhao, 2009. "Social Security, Differential Fertility, and the Dynamics of the Earnings Distribution," UWO Department of Economics Working Papers 20091, University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics.
    27. 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.
    28. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 2002. "The Power of the Pill: Oral Contraceptives and Women's Career and Marriage Decisions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(4), pages 730-770, August.
    29. Elizabeth M. Caucutt & Nezih Guner & John Knowles, 2002. "Why Do Women Wait? Matching, Wage Inequality, and the Incentives for Fertility Delay," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 5(4), pages 815-855, October.
    30. 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, .
    31. Michele Tertilt, 2005. "Polygyny, Fertility, and Savings," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(6), pages 1341-1370, December.
    32. Aiyagari, S.R. & Greenwood, J. & Guner, N., 1999. "On the State of the Union," RCER Working Papers 462, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
    33. Jacob Mincer & Solomon Polachek, 1974. "Family Investments in Human Capital: Earnings of Women," NBER Chapters, in: Marriage, Family, Human Capital, and Fertility, pages 76-110 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    34. Oded Galor & David N. Weil, 1993. "The Gender Gap, Fertility, and Growth," NBER Working Papers 4550, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    35. DE LA CROIX, David & DOEPKE, Matthias, 2001. "Inequality and Growth : Why Differential Fertility Matters," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2001008, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    36. Attanasio, O. & Low, H. & Sanchez-Marcos, V., 2004. "Explaining Changes in Female Labour Supply in a Life-cycle Model," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0451, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    37. Soohyung Lee, 2008. "Preferences and Choice Constraints in Marital Sorting: Evidence From Korea," Discussion Papers 07-042, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
    38. Knowles, John, 2007. "Why Are Married Men Working So Much? Home Production, Household Bargaining and Per-Capita Hours," IZA Discussion Papers 2909, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    39. Browning, Martin, 1992. "Children and Household Economic Behavior," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(3), pages 1434-75, September.
    40. Doepke, Matthias & Hazan, Moshe & Maoz, Yishay D., 2007. "The Baby Boom and World War II: A Macroeconomic Analysis," IZA Discussion Papers 3253, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    41. Jones, Larry & Schoonbroodt, Alice, 2007. "Baby busts and baby booms: the response of fertility to shocks in dynastic models," Discussion Paper Series In Economics And Econometrics 0706, Economics Division, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton.
    42. Jeremy Greenwood & Nezih Guner & John Knowles, 1999. "More on marriage, fertility, and the distribution of income," Working Paper 9904, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
    43. Li, Hongbin & Zhang, Junsen & Zhu, Yi, 2007. "The Quantity-Quality Tradeoff of Children in a Developing Country: Identification Using Chinese Twins," IZA Discussion Papers 3012, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    44. Gary S. Becker & Kevin M. Murphy & Robert F. Tamura, 1990. "Human Capital, Fertility, and Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 3414, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    45. 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, .
    46. Pedro Mira & Namkee Ahn, 2002. "A note on the changing relationship between fertility and female employment rates in developed countries," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 15(4), pages 667-682.
    47. Omer Moav, 2005. "Cheap Children and the Persistence of Poverty," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(500), pages 88-110, 01.
    48. Bagozzi, Richard P & Van Loo, M Frances, 1978. " Fertility as Consumption: Theories from the Behavioral Sciences," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 4(4), pages 199-228, March.
    49. Galor, Oded, 2004. "From Stagnation to Growth: Unified Growth Theory," CEPR Discussion Papers 4581, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    50. Matthias Doepke, 2005. "Child mortality and fertility decline: Does the Barro-Becker model fit the facts?," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 18(2), pages 337-366, 06.
    51. Michele Boldrin & Larry E. Jones, 2002. "Mortality, Fertility, and Saving in a Malthusian Economy," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 5(4), pages 775-814, October.
    52. Gary S. Becker, 1960. "An Economic Analysis of Fertility," NBER Chapters, in: Demographic and Economic Change in Developed Countries, pages 209-240 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    53. Larry Jones & Alice Schoonbrodt, 2016. "Baby Busts and Baby Booms: The Fertility Response to Shocks in Dynastic Models," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 20, pages 157-178, October.
    54. de la CROIX, David & DOEPKE, Matthias, 2002. "Public versus private education when differential fertility matters," CORE Discussion Papers 2002022, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
    55. Zvi Eckstein & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 1989. "Dynamic Labour Force Participation of Married Women and Endogenous Work Experience," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 56(3), pages 375-390.
    56. Amalia Miller, 2011. "The effects of motherhood timing on career path," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 24(3), pages 1071-1100, July.
    57. Weir, David R., 1995. "Family Income, Mortality, and Fertility on the Eve of the Demographic Transition: A Case Study of Rosny-Sous-Bois," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 55(01), pages 1-26, March.
    58. Matthias Doepke, 2004. "Accounting for Fertility Decline During the Transition to Growth," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 347-383, 09.
    59. George B. Roberts, Chairman, Universities-National Bureau Committee for Economic Research, 1960. "Demographic and Economic Change in Developed Countries," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number univ60-2, September.
    60. 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.
    61. Martha J. Bailey, 2006. "More Power to the Pill: The Impact of Contraceptive Freedom on Women's Life Cycle Labor Supply," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(1), pages 289-320.
    62. Rodolfo E. Manuelli & Ananth Seshadri, 2009. "Explaining International Fertility Differences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(2), pages 771-807.
    63. Gregory Clark & Gillian Hamilton, 2006. "Survival of the Richest: The Malthusian Mechanism in Pre-Industrial England," Working Papers 615, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
    64. Marco Francesconi, 2002. "A Joint Dynamic Model of Fertility and Work of Married Women," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(2), pages 336-380, Part.
    65. 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.
    66. Michelle Sheran Sylvester, 2007. "The Career and Family Choices of Women: A Dynamic Analysis of Labor Force Participation, Schooling, Marriage and Fertility Decisions," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 10(3), pages 367-399, July.
    67. Lazear, Edward P & Michael, Robert T, 1980. "Family Size and the Distribution of Real Per Capita Income," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(1), pages 91-107, March.
    68. Jeremy Greenwood & Ananth Seshadri & Guillaume Vandenbroucke, 2005. "The Baby Boom and Baby Bust," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 183-207, March.
    69. Heckman, James J, 1976. "A Life-Cycle Model of Earnings, Learning, and Consumption," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(4), pages S11-44, August.
    70. Gregory Clark, 2005. "Human Capital, Fertility, and the Industrial Revolution," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(2-3), pages 505-515, 04/05.
    71. David N. Weil & Oded Galor, 2000. "Population, Technology, and Growth: From Malthusian Stagnation to the Demographic Transition and Beyond," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 806-828, September.
    72. Jacob Mincer & Haim Ofek, 1982. "Interrupted Work Careers: Depreciation and Restoration of Human Capital," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 17(1), pages 3-24.
    73. Pencavel, John, 1998. "Assortative Mating by Schooling and the Work Behavior of Wives and Husbands," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 326-29, May.
    74. Joseph Hotz, V. & Klerman, Jacob Alex & Willis, Robert J., 1993. "The economics of fertility in developed countries," Handbook of Population and Family Economics, in: M. R. Rosenzweig & Stark, O. (ed.), Handbook of Population and Family Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 7, pages 275-347 Elsevier.
    75. Ben-Porath, Yoram, 1976. "Fertility Response to Child Mortality: Micro Data from Israel," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(4), pages S163-78, August.
    76. Deborah Freedman & Arland Thornton, 1982. "Income and fertility: The elusive relationship," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 19(1), pages 65-78, February.
    77. Vegard Skirbekk, 2008. "Fertility trends by social status," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 18(5), pages 145-180, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:8406. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.