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Desired Fertility and Children Born across Time and Space

Author

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  • Isabel Günther

    (ETH Zurich)

  • Kenneth Harttgen

    (ETH Zurich)

Abstract

With about five children born per woman and a population growth rate of 2.5 per cent per year, sub-Saharan Africa has been the world’s fastest growing region over the last decade. Economists have often argued that high fertility rates are mainly driven by women’s demand for children (and not by family planning efforts) with low levels of unwanted fertility across countries (and hence with little room for family planning efforts to reduce population growth). We study the relationship between wanted fertility and number of children born in a panel of 200 country-years controlling for country characteristics and global trends. In general, we find a close relationship between wanted and actual fertility, with one desired child leading to one additional birth. However, our results also indicate that in the last 20 years the level of unwanted births has stayed at two across sub-Saharan Africa whereas it has decreased from one to zero in other developing countries. Hence, women in African countries are less able to translate child preferences into birth outcomes than women in other developing countries, i.e. leaving plenty of room for family planning efforts; and forces other than fertility demand have been important for fertility declines in other developing countries. Family planning efforts only partly explain the observed temporal and spatial differences in achieving desired fertility levels.

Suggested Citation

  • Isabel Günther & Kenneth Harttgen, 2013. "Desired Fertility and Children Born across Time and Space," Courant Research Centre: Poverty, Equity and Growth - Discussion Papers 144, Courant Research Centre PEG.
  • Handle: RePEc:got:gotcrc:144
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    File URL: http://www2.vwl.wiso.uni-goettingen.de/courant-papers/CRC-PEG_DP_144.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Kohler, Hans-Peter, 2001. "Fertility and Social Interaction: An Economic Perspective," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199244591.
    2. David E. Bloom & David Canning, 2004. "Global demographic change : dimensions and economic significance," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Aug, pages 9-56.
    3. Grant Miller, 2010. "Contraception as Development? New Evidence from Family Planning in Colombia," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 120(545), pages 709-736, June.
    4. Munshi, Kaivan & Myaux, Jacques, 2006. "Social norms and the fertility transition," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 1-38, June.
    5. David E. Bloom & Jeffrey D. Sachs, 1998. "Geography, Demography, and Economic Growth in Africa," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 29(2), pages 207-296.
    6. World Bank, 2012. "World Development Indicators 2012," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 6014.
    7. David Lam, 2011. "How the World Survived the Population Bomb: Lessons From 50 Years of Extraordinary Demographic History," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 48(4), pages 1231-1262, November.
    8. Nikos Alexandratos, 2005. "Countries with Rapid Population Growth and Resource Constraints: Issues of Food, Agriculture, and Development," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 31(2), pages 237-258, June.
    9. Bruno Shoumaker, 2013. "A Stata module for computing fertility rates and TFRs from birth histories: tfr2," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 28(38), pages 1093-1144, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Holger Strulik, 2017. "Contraception And Development: A Unified Growth Theory," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 58, pages 561-584, May.
    2. Pierluigi Conzo & Giulia Fuochi & Letizia Mencarini, 2017. "Fertility and Life Satisfaction in Rural Ethiopia," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 54(4), pages 1331-1351, August.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Fertility; Population Growth; Development; Population Policies;

    JEL classification:

    • J10 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - General
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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