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Human Capital, Fertility, and Economic Growth

  • Gary S. Becker
  • Kevin M. Murphy
  • Robert Tamura

The authors' analysis of growth assumes endogenous fertility and a rising rate of return on human capital as the stock of human capital increases. When human capital is abundant, rates of return on human capital investments are high relative to rates of return on children, whereas, when human capital is scarce, rates of return on human capital are low relative to those on children. As a result, societies with limited human capital choose large families and invest little in each member; those with abundant human capital do the opposite. This leads to two stable steady states. One has large families and little human capital; the other has small families and perhaps growing human and physical capital. Copyright 1990 by University of Chicago Press.

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Paper provided by Chicago - Population Research Center in its series University of Chicago - Population Research Center with number 90-5a.

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Publication status: Published in Journal of Political Economy, v. 98, no. 5, Part 2 (October 1990): S12-S37
Handle: RePEc:fth:chiprc:90-5a
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  1. Gary S. Becker & Robert J. Barro, 1986. "A Reformulation of the Economic Theory of Fertility," NBER Working Papers 1793, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Barro, R.J., 1989. "Economic Growth In A Cross Section Of Countries," RCER Working Papers 201, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  3. Theodore W. Schultz, 1960. "Capital Formation by Education," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 68, pages 571.
  4. Heckman, James J, 1976. "A Life-Cycle Model of Earnings, Learning, and Consumption," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(4), pages S11-44, August.
  5. Rosen, Sherwin, 1976. "A Theory of Life Earnings," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(4), pages S45-67, August.
  6. Tamura, R., 1991. "Fertility , Human Capital and the "Wealth of Nations"," Working Papers 91-17, University of Iowa, Department of Economics.
  7. David, Paul A, 1985. "Clio and the Economics of QWERTY," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(2), pages 332-37, May.
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