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Contraception and Fertility: Household Production Under Uncertainty

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  • Robert T. Michael
  • Robert J. Willis

Abstract

Over the past century fertility behavior in the United Stated has undergone profound changes Measured by cohort fertility the average number of children per married woman had declined from about 5.5 children at the time of the Civil War to 2.4 children at the time of the Great Depression. It is seldom emphasized however that an even greater relative change took place in the dispersion of fertility among these women: the percentage of women with, say, seven or more children declined from 36% to under 6%. While students of population have offered reasonably convincing explanations for the decline in fertility over time, they have not succeeded in explaining the fluctuations in the trend and have made surprisingly little effort to explain the large and systematic decline in the dispersion of fertility over time. In this paper we attempt to study contraception behavior and its effects on fertility. One of the effects on which we focus considerable attention is the dispersion or variance in fertility. Our analysis is applied to cross-sectional data but it also provides an explanation for the decline in the variance in fertility over time.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert T. Michael & Robert J. Willis, 1973. "Contraception and Fertility: Household Production Under Uncertainty," NBER Working Papers 0021, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:0021
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    1. repec:cai:popine:popu_p1961_16n4_0636 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Mincer, Jacob & Polachek, Solomon, 1974. "Family Investment in Human Capital: Earnings of Women," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(2), pages 76-108, Part II, .
    3. Kelvin J. Lancaster, 1966. "A New Approach to Consumer Theory," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 74, pages 132-132.
    4. Michael, Robert T, 1973. "Education and the Derived Demand for Children," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(2), pages 128-164, Part II, .
    5. Ben-Porath, Yoram, 1973. "Economic Analysis of Fertility in Israel: Point and Counterpoint," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(2), pages 202-233, Part II, .
    6. Willis, Robert J, 1973. "A New Approach to the Economic Theory of Fertility Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(2), pages 14-64, Part II, .
    7. Cain, Glen G, 1971. "Issues in the Economics of a Population Policy for the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 61(2), pages 408-417, May.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Timothy W. Guinnane, 2011. "The Historical Fertility Transition: A Guide for Economists," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 49(3), pages 589-614, September.
    2. James J. Heckman & Robert J. Willis, 1976. "Estimation of a Stochastic Model of Reproduction: An Econometric Approach," NBER Chapters,in: Household Production and Consumption, pages 99-146 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Yoram Porath, 1975. "First-generation effects on second-generation fertility," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 12(3), pages 397-405, August.
    4. Julio Cáceres-Delpiano, 2011. "Is there a cost associated with an increase in family size beyond child investment? Evidence from developing countries," Working Papers 1117, Banco de España;Working Papers Homepage.
    5. B. Wolfe & S. Zuvekas, "undated". "Nonmarket outcomes of schooling," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1065-95, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
    6. Robert T. Michael, 1977. "Two Papers on the Recent Rise in U.S. Divorce Rate," NBER Working Papers 0202, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Martha J. Bailey, 2010. ""Momma's Got the Pill": How Anthony Comstock and Griswold v. Connecticut Shaped US Childbearing," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(1), pages 98-129, March.
    8. repec:eee:deveco:v:131:y:2018:i:c:p:96-103 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Mølland, Eirin, 2016. "Benefits from delay? The effect of abortion availability on young women and their children," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 6-28.
    10. Bhattacharya, Joydeep & Chakraborty, Shankha, 2014. "Contraception and the Fertility Transition," MPRA Paper 53129, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Cáceres-Delpiano Julio, 2012. "Impacts of Family Size on the Family as a Whole: Evidence from the Developing World," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 12(1), pages 1-34, May.
    12. Barbara L. Wolfe & Robert H. Haveman, 2002. "Social and nonmarket benefits from education in an advanced economy," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, vol. 47(Jun), pages 97-142.
    13. repec:eee:hapoch:v1_3 is not listed on IDEAS

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