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Does economic development drive the fertility rebound in OECD countries?

  • Angela Luci

    (INED - Institut National d'Etudes Démographiques - INED)

  • Olivier Thevenon

    ()

    (INED - Institut National d'Etudes Démographiques - INED)

We examine how far changes in fertility trends are related to ongoing economic development in OECD countries. In the light of the inverse J-shaped relationship between the human development index (HDI) and total fertility rates that was recently found by Myrskylä, Kohler and Billari (2009), we single out the impact of economic development on fertility. We empirically test the hypothesis of a convex impact of GDP per capita on fertility, using data from the OECD area that spans the years 1960 to 2007. We test the robustness of our findings by controlling for birth postponement and for different income distribution patterns. By designating a clear turning point in the relationship between economic development and fertility, we find that economic development is likely to induce a fertility rebound, but is not sufficient to lift fertility to a significantly higher level in all OECD countries. Country-specific factors explain why countries with similar GDP per capita levels achieve significantly lower or higher fertility rates than the estimated baseline, however. By decomposing GDP per capita into several variables, we identify female employment as the main factor impacting fertility, behind GDP variations. The positive association between the increase in female employment and fertility rates suggests a key role played by the changes in norms and institutions supporting the combination of work and family that go along with the process of economic development.

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Date of creation: Sep 2010
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Handle: RePEc:hal:wpaper:hal-00520948
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