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The Emergence of Procyclical Fertility: The Role of Gender Differences in Employment Risk


  • Sena Coskun
  • Husnu Dalgic


Fertility in the US has exhibited a procyclical pattern since the 1970s. We argue that gender differences in employment risk leads to procyclical fertility: men tend to work in volatile and procyclical industries, while women are more likely to work in relatively stable and countercyclical industries. The relative gender employment gap is countercyclical as women become breadwinners in recessions, producing an insurance effect of female income. Our quantitative framework features a general equilibrium OLG model with endogenous fertility and human capital choice and shows that the current gender industry composition in the US data fully accounts for the procyclicality observed. We can also generate countercyclical fertility, as observed in the 1960s, either when the female income share is low or procyclical. Finally, we argue that the insurance effect of female income in bad times tilts the quality-quantity trade-off towards quality.

Suggested Citation

  • Sena Coskun & Husnu Dalgic, 2020. "The Emergence of Procyclical Fertility: The Role of Gender Differences in Employment Risk," CRC TR 224 Discussion Paper Series crctr224_2020_142v2, University of Bonn and University of Mannheim, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:bon:boncrc:crctr224_2020_142v2

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    Cited by:

    1. Allan Webster & Sangeeta Khorana & Francesco Pastore, 2021. "The labour market impact of COVID-19: early evidence for a sample of enterprises from Southern Europe," International Journal of Manpower, Emerald Group Publishing Limited, vol. 43(4), pages 1054-1082, November.
    2. Doepke, Matthias & Hannusch, Anne & Kindermann, Fabian & Tertilt, Michèle, 2022. "The Economics of Fertility: A New Era," IZA Discussion Papers 15224, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. Guner, Nezih & Kulikova, Yuliya & Valladares-Esteban, Arnau, 2020. "Does the Added Worker Effect Matter?," IZA Discussion Papers 12923, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Jose Cuesta & Julieth Pico, 2020. "The Gendered Poverty Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic in Colombia," The European Journal of Development Research, Palgrave Macmillan;European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI), vol. 32(5), pages 1558-1591, December.
    5. Titan Alon & Sena Coskun & Matthias Doepke & David Koll & Michèle Tertilt, 2022. "From Mancession to Shecession: Women’s Employment in Regular and Pandemic Recessions," NBER Macroeconomics Annual, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(1), pages 83-151.
    6. Alon, Titan & Doepke, Matthias & Olmstead-Rumsey, Jane & Tertilt, Michèle, 2020. "This Time It's Different: The Role of Women's Employment in a Pandemic Recession," IZA Discussion Papers 13562, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    7. Tertilt, Michèle & Doepke, Matthias & Olmstead-Rumsey, Jane, 2020. "This Time It’s Different: The Role of Women’s Employment in a Pandemic Recession," CEPR Discussion Papers 15149, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. Chiara Ludovica Comolli, 2021. "Couples' paid work, state-level unemployment, and first births in the United States," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 45(38), pages 1149-1184.
    9. Titan Alon & Matthias Doepke & Jane Olmstead-Rumsey & Michèle Tertilt, 2020. "The Impact of COVID-19 on Gender Equality," CRC TR 224 Discussion Paper Series crctr224_2020_163, University of Bonn and University of Mannheim, Germany.
    10. Devesh Roy & Sunil Saroj & Mamata Pradhan, 2022. "Nature of employment and outcomes for urban labor: evidence from the latest labor force surveys in India," Indian Economic Review, Springer, vol. 57(1), pages 165-221, June.
    11. Ana Tribin & Karen García-Rojas & Paula Herrera-Idarraga & Leonardo Fabio Morales & Natalia Ramirez-Bustamante, 2023. "Shecession: The Downfall of Colombian Women During the Covid-19 Pandemic," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 29(4), pages 158-193, October.

    More about this item


    fertility; fertility cyclicality; industry cyclicality; gender asymmetric employment; gender income gap; quality-quantity trade-off;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • 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
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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