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Economic incentives and the timing of births: Evidence from the German parental benefit reform 2007

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  • Henry Ohlsson, Michael Neugart and

    () (Uppsala Center for Fiscal Studies)

Abstract

Economic theory suggests that incentives matter for people's decisions. This paper investigates whether this also holds for less self-evident areas of life such as the timing of births. We make use of a nautral experiment when the German government changed its parental benefit system January 1, 2007. The policy changes strongly increased economic incentives for women to postpone delivery to the new year provided that they were employed. The incentives for women not employed were not the same, they could gain slightly from giving birth before the policy change. Applying a difference-in-difference-in-difference approach, we find very strong evidence that women with an employment history near to the end of their term indeed succeeded to shift births and became subject to the new and more generous parental benefit system. We estimate the quantitative impact to correspond to a 5-6 percentage points increased probability to give birth the first seven days of 2007 rather than the last seven days of 2006 for employed women.

Suggested Citation

  • Henry Ohlsson, Michael Neugart and, 2009. "Economic incentives and the timing of births: Evidence from the German parental benefit reform 2007," Working Paper Series, Center for Fiscal Studies 2009:10, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:uufswp:2009_010
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Jochen Kluve & Marcus Tamm, 2013. "Parental leave regulations, mothers’ labor force attachment and fathers’ childcare involvement: evidence from a natural experiment," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 26(3), pages 983-1005, July.
    2. Maria Gutiérrez-Domènech, 2008. "The impact of the labour market on the timing of marriage and births in Spain," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 21(1), pages 83-110, January.
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    5. Eliason, M. & Ohlsson, H., 2013. "Timing of death and the repeal of the Swedish inheritance tax," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 113-123.
    6. Gans, Joshua S. & Leigh, Andrew, 2009. "Born on the first of July: An (un)natural experiment in birth timing," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(1-2), pages 246-263, February.
    7. Ai, Chunrong & Norton, Edward C., 2003. "Interaction terms in logit and probit models," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 123-129, July.
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    9. Wojciech Kopczuk & Joel Slemrod, 2003. "Dying to Save Taxes: Evidence from Estate-Tax Returns on the Death Elasticity," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(2), pages 256-265, May.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Timing of births; economic incentives; parental benefits; policy reform;

    JEL classification:

    • D19 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Other
    • H53 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Welfare Programs
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J18 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Public Policy

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