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Estimating the causal effect of fertility on economic wellbeing: Data requirements, identifying assumptions and estimation methods

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  • Bruno Arpino
  • Arnstein Aassve

Abstract

This paper aims to answer to what extent fertility has a causal effect on households economic wellbeing-an issue that has received considerable interest in development studies and policy analysis. However, only recently has the literature begun to give importance to adequate modelling for estimation of causal effects. We discuss several strategies for causal inference, stressing that their validity must be judged on the assumptions we can plausibly formulate in a given application, which in turn depends on the richness of available data. This discussion has a general importance, representing a set of guidelines that can be helpful to choose the appropriate strategy of analysis. We contrast methods relying on the Unconfoundedness Assumption, which include regressions and propensity score matching, with Instrumental Variable methods. We discuss why they give different estimates of the causal effect using data from the Vietnam Living Standard Measurement Survey.

Suggested Citation

  • Bruno Arpino & Arnstein Aassve, 2008. "Estimating the causal effect of fertility on economic wellbeing: Data requirements, identifying assumptions and estimation methods," Working Papers 013, "Carlo F. Dondena" Centre for Research on Social Dynamics (DONDENA), Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi.
  • Handle: RePEc:don:donwpa:013
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    Cited by:

    1. Bernd Fitzenberger & Michael Lechner & Jeffrey Smith, 2013. "Estimation of treatment effects: recent developments and applications," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 44(1), pages 1-11, February.
    2. Anna Baranowska, 2013. "The family size effects on female employment. Evidence from the “natural experiments” related to human reproduction," Working Papers 57, Institute of Statistics and Demography, Warsaw School of Economics.
    3. Bruno Arpino & Arnstein Aassve, 2014. "The role of villages in households’ poverty exit: evidence from a multilevel model for rural Vietnam," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, vol. 48(4), pages 2175-2189, July.
    4. Nicoletta Balbo & Bruno Arpino, 2016. "The Role of Family Orientations in Shaping the Effect of Fertility on Subjective Well-being: A Propensity Score Matching Approach," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 53(4), pages 955-978, August.
    5. Baris Ucar & Gianni Betti, 2016. "The effect of a newborn on household poverty: a multi-indicator analysis," Department of Economics University of Siena 742, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
    6. Anna Baranowska-Rataj & Xavier de Luna & Anneli Ivarsson, 2016. "Does the number of siblings affect health in midlife? Evidence from the Swedish Prescribed Drug Register," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 35(43), pages 1259-1302, November.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    fertility; poverty; causal inference; unconfoundedness; instrumental variables; VLSMS;

    JEL classification:

    • D19 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Other
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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