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Mortality Reductions, Educational Attainment, and Fertility Choice

  • Rodrigo R. Soares

This paper explores the role of life expectancy as a determinant of educational attainment and fertility, both during the demographic transition and after its completion. Two main points distinguish our analysis from the previous ones. First, together with the investments of parents in the human capital of children, we introduce investments of adult individuals in their own education, which determines productivity in both the goods and household sectors. Second, we let adult longevity affect the way parents value each individual child. Increases in adult longevity eventually raise the investments in adult education. Together with the higher utility derived from each child, this tilts the quantity-quality trade off towards less and better educated children, and increases the growth rate of the economy. Reductions in child mortality may have similar effects -- or may only affect fertility -- depending on the nature of the costs of raising children. This setup can explain both the demographic transition and the recent behavior of fertility in ``post-demographic transition'' countries, ignored by the previous literature and incompatible with most of its results. Evidence from historical experiences of demographic transition, and from the recent behavior of fertility, education, and growth supports the predictions of the model

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Paper provided by Econometric Society in its series Econometric Society 2004 North American Winter Meetings with number 9.

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Date of creation: 11 Aug 2004
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Handle: RePEc:ecm:nawm04:9
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