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A Network Approach to the Economic Models of Fertility

  • YOUM Yoosik
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    Since its first appearance in the late 1950s, Neoclassical economic theory of fertility, especially as exemplified by Gary Becker's model of household production function that assumed a unitary utility function of the household, has become one of the most popular paradigms to examine fertility changes. This paper intends to expand the economic model by incorporating the social network approach into the original paradigm. Social networks are crucial in determining the fertility rate of a society above and beyond parameters originally included in the neoclassical economic model in two ways. First, the extent that separate utilities of spouses could be treated in one function is, in part, dependent on the network embeddedness of spouses: intra-household network. If spouses are not embedded into each other's networks, it would be natural to drop the assumption of the unitary utility function and reformulate the decision process based on bargaining. Second, in addition to the intra-household network, inter-house networks also play a role in couple's decisions with regard to fertility. Couples need information about other couples' fertility decisions for their own and also normative pressures from other couples or friends are crucial in the dynamic process of fertility change. Social networks are a major conduit both for information and normative constraints. This paper focuses on the first kind of networks (intra-household networks) with illustrative empirical results by using the two waves of Korean Longitudinal Survey of Women and Families (KLOWF).

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    Paper provided by Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI) in its series Discussion papers with number 11062.

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    Length: 20 pages
    Date of creation: Aug 2011
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    Handle: RePEc:eti:dpaper:11062
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    1. T. Paul Schultz, 1990. "Testing the Neoclassical Model of Family Labor Supply and Fertility," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(4), pages 599-634.
    2. Kohler, Hans-Peter, 2000. "Fertility decline as a coordination problem," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 231-263, December.
    3. Shelly J. Lundberg & Robert A. Pollak & Terence J. Wales, 1997. "Do Husbands and Wives Pool Their Resources? Evidence from the United Kingdom Child Benefit," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(3), pages 463-480.
    4. Karina Shreffler & Amy Pirretti & Robert Drago, 2010. "Work–Family Conflict and Fertility Intentions: Does Gender Matter?," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 31(2), pages 228-240, June.
    5. Alderman, H. & Chiappori, P.A. & Haddad, L., 1994. "Unitary versus Collective Models of the Household: Time to Shift the Burden of Proof?," DELTA Working Papers 94-17, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
    6. Kincaid, D. Lawrence, 2000. "Social networks, ideation, and contraceptive behavior in Bangladesh: a longitudinal analysis," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 215-231, January.
    7. Thomas, D., 1989. "Intra-Household Resource Allocation: An Inferential Approach," Papers 586, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
    8. George B. Roberts, Chairman, Universities-National Bureau Committee for Economic Research, 1960. "Demographic and Economic Change in Developed Countries," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number univ60-2, October.
    9. Christoph Bühler & Dimiter Philipov, 2005. "Social capital related to fertility: theoretical foundations and empirical evidence from Bulgaria," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2005-016, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    10. Hans-Peter Kohler & José A. Ortega & Francesco C. Billari, 2001. "Towards a theory of lowest-low fertility," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2001-032, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    11. Rasul, Imran, 2008. "Household bargaining over fertility: Theory and evidence from Malaysia," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(2), pages 215-241, June.
    12. Suen, Wing & Chan, William & Zhang, Junsen, 2003. "Marital transfer and intra-household allocation: a Nash-bargaining analysis," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 52(1), pages 133-146, September.
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