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Does economic uncertainty have an impact on decisions to bear children? Evidence from Eastern Germany

  • Sumon K. Bhaumik

    (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany)

  • Jeffrey B. Nugent

Economic agents routinely face various types of economic uncertainty. Seldom have these various forms of uncertainty manifested themselves more sharply than in the transition economies of Central and Eastern Europe. In East Germany, the transition was especially rapid and sharp since East Germany virtually over night made the transition from the Eastern European system to the market economy of Western Germany. Uncertainties increased and many institutional and behavioral adjustments took place in a concentrated period of time. Among the latter was a sharp fall in fertility rates, leading to a growing literature on the explanation for this decline. This paper focuses directly on the link between uncertainty and childbearing decisions and examines the link at the micro level. It develops a stylized overlapping generations model showing that the relationship between economic uncertainty and childbearing decisions is not necessarily monotonic, and hence that the aforementioned inverse relationship is merely a testable hypothesis. It then uses GSOEP data for 1992 and 1996 to estimate the nature of this relationship, and concludes that while this relationship was indeed negative for East German women during these two years, the nature of uncertainty affecting their childbearing decisions differed across the years.

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File URL: http://www.demogr.mpg.de/papers/working/wp-2002-037.pdf
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Paper provided by Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany in its series MPIDR Working Papers with number WP-2002-037.

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Length: 25 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:dem:wpaper:wp-2002-037
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.demogr.mpg.de/

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  1. Michaela Kreyenfeld, 2000. "Educational attainment and first births: East Germany before and after unification," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2000-011, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
  2. Maja B. Micevska & Paul J. Zak, 2002. "What Accounts for the Emergence of Malthusian Fertility in Transition Economies?," Claremont Colleges Working Papers 2002-01, Claremont Colleges.
  3. Jennifer Hunt, 1997. "The Transition in East Germany: When is a Ten Point Fall in the Gender Wage Gap Bad News?," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 156, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  4. Adriaan S. Kalwij, 2000. "The effects of female employment status on the presence and number of children," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 13(2), pages 221-239.
  5. Arthur Lewbel, 1997. "Constructing Instruments for Regressions with Measurement Error when no Additional Data are Available, with an Application to Patents and R&D," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(5), pages 1201-1214, September.
  6. Michaela Kreyenfeld, 2000. "Employment careers and the timing of first births in East Germany," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2000-004, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
  7. Witte, James C. & Wagner, Gert G., 1995. "Declining Fertility in East Germany After Unification: A Demographic Response to Socioeconomic Change," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, pages 387-397.
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