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Women’s Empowerment, the Gender Gap in Desired Fertility, and Fertility Outcomes in Developing Countries

Author

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  • Matthias Doepke

    (Northwestern University)

  • Michèle Tertilt

    (Universität Mannheim)

Abstract

We document evidence on preferences for childbearing in developing countries. Across countries, men usually desire larger families than women do. Within countries, we find wide dispersion in spouses’ desired fertility: there are many couples whose ideal family size differs by five children or more. This disagreement between spouses suggests that the extent to which women are empowered should matter for fertility choices. We point to evidence at both the macro and micro levels that this is indeed the case. We conclude that taking account of household bargaining and women’s empowerment in analyses of fertility is an important challenge for research.

Suggested Citation

  • Matthias Doepke & Michèle Tertilt, 2018. "Women’s Empowerment, the Gender Gap in Desired Fertility, and Fertility Outcomes in Developing Countries," Working Papers 2018-001, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
  • Handle: RePEc:hka:wpaper:2018-001
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    File URL: http://humcap.uchicago.edu/RePEc/hka/wpaper/Doepke_Tertilt_2018_womens-empowerment-fertility.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Matthias Doepke & Fabian Kindermann, 2019. "Bargaining over Babies: Theory, Evidence, and Policy Implications," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 109(9), pages 3264-3306, September.
    2. Nava Ashraf & Erica Field & Jean Lee, 2014. "Household Bargaining and Excess Fertility: An Experimental Study in Zambia," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(7), pages 2210-2237, July.
    3. Rasul, Imran, 2008. "Household bargaining over fertility: Theory and evidence from Malaysia," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(2), pages 215-241, June.
    4. Matthias Doepke & Michèle Tertilt, 2009. "Women's Liberation: What's in It for Men?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(4), pages 1541-1591.
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    Cited by:

    1. Sunha Myong & JungJae Park & Junjian Yi, 2021. "Social Norms and Fertility," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 19(5), pages 2429-2466.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    women's empowerment; desired fertility; marital bargaining;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General

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