Does Economic Uncertainty Affect the Decision to Bear Children? Evidence from East and West Germany
Although economic agents routinely face various types of economic uncertainty, their effects are often unclear and hard to assess, in part due to the absence of suitable measures of uncertainty. Because of the numerous and very substantial institutional changes that people in the transition economies of Central and Eastern Europe experienced during the last two decades, these countries are excellent candidates for examining the effects of uncertainties on various kinds of behavior. During their periods of uncertainty, moreover, these countries have experienced sharply falling fertility rates. Some have argued that these two phenomena are linked but others have remained skeptical in view of the fact that the evidence is largely confined to the macro level. This paper demonstrates the existence of such a link at the micro level using two different types of uncertainty measures based on GSOEP data from Eastern (and for comparison purposes also Western) Germany for the years 1992-2002. The results suggest that employment uncertainty (but not financial uncertainty) was considerably greater in Eastern Germany during its transition than in Western Germany and had a highly nonlinear effect on the probability of a birth in any period. The result is rather robust to differences in specification and suggests that the higher employment uncertainty in East Germany in the transition could have contributed significantly to the sharp fall and unusually low level of its fertility. In view of the results, we argue that an options based theory is perhaps a richer analytical paradigm for a discussion of fertility decisions in a rapidly changing environment than the traditional Beckerian theory.
|Date of creation:||Sep 2005|
|Date of revision:|
|Publication status:||published as 'Real Options and Demographic Decisions: Evidence from East and West Germany' in: Applied Economics, 2011, 43 (21), 2739 - 2749|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: |
Phone: +49 228 3894 223
Fax: +49 228 3894 180
Web page: http://www.iza.org
|Order Information:|| Postal: IZA, Margard Ody, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany|
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- T.D. Stanley & Stephen B. Jarrell, 1998. "Gender Wage Discrimination Bias? A Meta-Regression Analysis," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(4), pages 947-973.
- Angelika Tölke, 2003. "Insecurities in employment and occupational careers and their impact on the transition to fatherhood in Western Germany," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2003-016, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
- Laura Bernardi & Andreas Klärner & Holger von der Lippe, 2006. "Perceptions of job instability and the prospects of parenthood. A comparison between Eastern and Western Germany," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2006-017, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
- Gary V. Engelhardt & Christopher J. Mayer, 1995.
"Intergenerational transfers, borrowing constraints, and saving behavior: evidence from the housing market,"
95-11, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
- Engelhardt, Gary V. & Mayer, Christopher J., 1998. "Intergenerational Transfers, Borrowing Constraints, and Saving Behavior: Evidence from the Housing Market," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 135-157, July.
- Holger Bonin & Rob Euwals, 2002.
"Participation Behavior of East German Women after German Unification,"
10th International Conference on Panel Data, Berlin, July 5-6, 2002
D1-1, International Conferences on Panel Data.
- Bonin, Holger & Euwals, Rob, 2001. "Participation Behavior of East German Women after German Unification," IZA Discussion Papers 413, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Bonin, Holger & Euwals, Rob, 2002. "Participation Behaviour of East German Women After German Unification," CEPR Discussion Papers 3201, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Holger Bonin & Rob Euwals, 2002. "Participation Behavior of East German Women after German Unification," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 477, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
- Michael Lechner, 2005. "The Empirical Analysis of East German Fertility after," Labor and Demography 0505005, EconWPA.
- Tomás Sobotka, 2004. "Is Lowest-Low Fertility in Europe Explained by the Postponement of Childbearing?," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 30(2), pages 195-220.
- Bhaumik, Sumon Kumar & Nugent, Jeffrey B, 1999. "Analysis of Food Demand in Peru: Implications for Food-Feed Competition," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 3(3), pages 242-57, October.
- Stacy Dickert-Conlin & Amitabh Chandra, 1999. "Taxes and the Timing of Birth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(1), pages 161-177, February.
- Debra Friedman & Michael Hechter & Satoshi Kanazawa, 1994. "A theory of the value of children," Demography, Springer, vol. 31(3), pages 375-401, August.
- William A. Darity & Patrick L. Mason, 1998. "Evidence on Discrimination in Employment: Codes of Color, Codes of Gender," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 63-90, Spring.
- Avinash K. Dixit & Robert S. Pindyck, 1994. "Investment under Uncertainty," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 5474.
- Liliana E. Pezzin & Barbara Steinberg Schone, 1999. "Intergenerational Household Formation, Female Labor Supply and Informal Caregiving: A Bargaining Approach," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 34(3), pages 475-503.
- Lechner, Michael, 1997. "Eine empirische Analyse der Geburtenentwicklung in den neuen Bundesländern," Discussion Papers 551, Institut fuer Volkswirtschaftslehre und Statistik, Abteilung fuer Volkswirtschaftslehre.
- Angelika Tölke & Martin Diewald, 2003. "Insecurities in employment and occupational careers and their impact on the transition to fatherhood in Western Germany," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 9(3), pages 41-68, September.
- Robert S. Chase, 2003. "Household fertility responses following communism: Transition in the Czech Republic and Slovakia," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 16(3), pages 579-595, 08.
- Michaela Kreyenfeld, 2000. "Employment careers and the timing of first births in East Germany," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2000-004, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
- Witte, James C. & Wagner, Gert G., 1995. "Declining Fertility in East Germany After Unification: A Demographic Response to Socioeconomic Change," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, pages 387-397.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1746. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mark Fallak)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.