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The Fertility Transition: Economic Explanations

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  • T. Paul Schultz

    (Economic Growth Center, Yale University)

Abstract

Economic explanations for the fertility transition focus on the role of returns to schooling, especially for women, which have encouraged women to obtain more education and facilitated the rise in women's wages relative to men's. The private opportunity costs of children have therefore increased, and parents have been motivated to substitute child schooling for additional births Declines in fertility have proceeded unevenly, first across the high income countries, and more recently across the low income countries. The cross sectional differentials in fertility are also frequently analyzed in household surveys, suggesting parallels with the cross-country comparisons. At an aggregate level, states have simultaneously legislated socialized support for the consumption of the elderly, which has eroded the incentives for childbearing, and subsidized child human capital through schools and public health programs, which has encouraged parents to demand fewer, higher quality, children.

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  • T. Paul Schultz, 2001. "The Fertility Transition: Economic Explanations," Working Papers 833, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  • Handle: RePEc:egc:wpaper:833
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    File URL: http://www.econ.yale.edu/growth_pdf/cdp833.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gary S. Becker, 1981. "A Treatise on the Family," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number beck81-1, May.
    2. Schultz, T Paul, 1994. "Human Capital, Family Planning, and Their Effects on Population Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 255-260, May.
    3. Timothy Guinnane & Barbara Okun & James Trussell, 1994. "What do we know about the timing of fertility transitions in europe?," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 31(1), pages 1-20, February.
    4. Schultz, T. Paul (ed.), 1995. "Investment in Women's Human Capital," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, number 9780226740874, Febrero.
    5. Heckman, James, 2013. "Sample selection bias as a specification error," Applied Econometrics, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA), vol. 31(3), pages 129-137.
    6. Robert W. Fogel, 1999. "Catching Up with the Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 1-21, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Marcos A. Rangel & Jenna Nobles & Amar Hamoudi, 2020. "Brazil’s Missing Infants: Zika Risk Changes Reproductive Behavior," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 57(5), pages 1647-1680, October.
    2. Francesca Modena & Concetta Rondinelli & Fabio Sabatini, 2014. "Economic Insecurity and Fertility Intentions: The Case of Italy," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 60(S1), pages 233-255, May.
    3. Michael Clemens, 2004. "The Long Walk to School: International Education Goals in Historical Perspective," Working Papers 37, Center for Global Development.
    4. Shahin Yaqub, 2009. "Independent Child Migrants in Developing Countries: Unexplored links in migration and development," Papers inwopa09/62, Innocenti Working Papers.
    5. Rangel, Marcos & Nobles, Jenna & Hamoudi, Amar, 2019. "Brazil's Missing Infants: Zika Risk Changes Reproductive Behavior," SocArXiv fu8bp, Center for Open Science.
    6. Anders Björklund, 2006. "Does family policy affect fertility?," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 19(1), pages 3-24, February.
    7. Borooah, Vani K., 2004. "The politics of demography: a study of inter-community fertility differences in India," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 551-578, September.
    8. Siv Gustafsson & Seble Worku, 2007. "Teenage Motherhood and Long-run Outcomes in South Africa," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 07-024/3, Tinbergen Institute.
    9. Borooah, Vani, 2003. "Births, Infants and Children: an Econometric Portrait of Women and Children in India," MPRA Paper 19620, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Bloom, D.E. & Luca, D.L., 2016. "The Global Demography of Aging," Handbook of the Economics of Population Aging, in: Piggott, John & Woodland, Alan (ed.), Handbook of the Economics of Population Aging, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 0, pages 3-56, Elsevier.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Fertility Transition; Women's Schooling; Women's Wages; Child Mortality;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D19 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Other
    • J10 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - General
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • N30 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - General, International, or Comparative

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