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Fertility Changes in Latin America in the Context of Economic Uncertainty

  • Adsera, Alicia

    ()

    (Princeton University)

  • Menendez, Alicia

    ()

    (University of Chicago)

We explore the relation between fertility and the business cycle in Latin American countries taking advantage of the existing cross-country and within-country differences in both fertility and macroeconomic conditions. First, we use a panel of 18 nations for over 45 years to study how different labor market and economic shocks may have affected fertility. Second, we estimate Cox proportional hazard models of transitions to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd births with individual Demographic and Health Survey data from ten countries. We find that periods of relative high unemployment are associated with lower fertility and with relative postponements of maternity (and to some extent second and third births). In general, women seem to postpone and even reduce childbearing in response to downturns. This behavior is mainly associated to increasing unemployment rather than slowdowns in GPD growth, although we find a positive relationship between first births and growth. Despite that periods of unemployment may be good to have children because opportunity costs are lower, maternity is reduced or postponed, in particular, among the most recent cohort and among urban and more educated women. This is consistent with the idea that, in this context, income effects are dominant.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 4019.

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Length: 48 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2009
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as 'Fertility changes in Latin America in periods of economic uncertainty' in: Population Studies, 2011, 65 (1), 37 - 56
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4019
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  1. Tapinos, G. & Mason, A. & Bravo, J. (ed.), 1997. "Demographic Responses to Economic Adjustment in Latin America," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198292104, December.
  2. Øystein Kravdal, 2001. "The High Fertility of College Educated Women in Norway," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 5(6), pages 187-216, December.
  3. David Card & John E. DiNardo, 2002. "Skill-Biased Technological Change and Rising Wage Inequality: Some Problems and Puzzles," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(4), pages 733-783, October.
  4. Gonzalez-Rozada, Martin & Menendez, Alicia, 2006. "Why Have Urban Poverty and Income Inequality Increased So Much? Argentina, 1991-2001," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 55(1), pages 109-38, October.
  5. Martín González-Rozada & Alicia Menendez, 2006. "Why Have Urban Poverty and Income Inequality Increased So Much? Argentina, 1991–2001," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 55, pages 109-138.
  6. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 2002. "The Power of the Pill: Oral Contraceptives and Women's Career and Marriage Decisions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(4), pages 730-770, August.
  7. Tullio Jappelli, 1990. "Who is Credit Constrained in the U. S. Economy?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 105(1), pages 219-234.
  8. Butz, William P & Ward, Michael P, 1979. "The Emergence of Countercyclical U.S. Fertility," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(3), pages 318-28, June.
  9. Ward, Michael P & Butz, William P, 1980. "Completed Fertility and Its Timing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(5), pages 917-40, October.
  10. James J. Heckman & Lance Lochner & Christopher Taber, 1998. "Explaining Rising Wage Inequality: Explorations with a Dynamic General Equilibrium Model of Labor Earnings with Heterogeneous Agents," NBER Working Papers 6384, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Kravdal,O., 2001. "The high fertility of college educated women in Norway : an artefact of the 'piecemeal approach'," Memorandum 22/2001, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
  12. Morris Silver, 1965. "Births, Marriages, and Business Cycles in the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 73, pages 237.
  13. Norbert R. Schady, 2004. "Do Macroeconomic Crises Always Slow Human Capital Accumulation?," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 18(2), pages 131-154.
  14. Joseph Price, 2008. "Parent-Child Quality Time: Does Birth Order Matter?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(1).
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