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Has Social Security Influenced Family Formation and Fertility in OECD Countries? An Economic and Econometric Analysis

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  • Isaac Ehrlich
  • Jinyoung Kim

Abstract

There is growing concern about a decline in the total fertility rate worldwide, but nowhere is the concern greater than in OECD countries, some of which already face the prospect of population decline as well. While the trend is largely the result of structural economic and social changes, our paper indicates that it is partly influenced by the scale of the defined-benefits, pay-as-you-go (PAYG) social security systems operating in most countries. Through a dynamic, overlapping-generations model where the generations are linked by parental altruism, we show analytically that social security tax and benefit rates generate incentives for individuals to reduce not just the fertility rate within families, but also the incentive to form families, which we capture empirically by the fraction of adults married. We conduct calibrated simulations as well as regression analyses that measure the quantitative importance of social security tax rates in lowering both net marriage and total fertility rates. Our results show that the impact of social security on these variables has been non-trivial. Our calibrated simulations also enable us to study the effects of changes in the structure of social security on family formation and fertility.

Suggested Citation

  • Isaac Ehrlich & Jinyoung Kim, 2007. "Has Social Security Influenced Family Formation and Fertility in OECD Countries? An Economic and Econometric Analysis," NBER Working Papers 12869, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12869
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Barro, Robert J. & Lee, Jong-Wha, 2005. "IMF programs: Who is chosen and what are the effects?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(7), pages 1245-1269, October.
    2. Juster, F Thomas & Stafford, Frank P, 1991. "The Allocation of Time: Empirical Findings, Behavioral Models, and Problems of Measurement," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 29(2), pages 471-522, June.
    3. Isaac Ehrlich & Jinyoung Kim, 2007. "Social Security and Demographic Trends: Theory and Evidence from the International Experience," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 10(1), pages 55-77, January.
    4. Isaac Ehrlich & Jinyoung Kim, 2005. "Social Security, Demographic Trends, and Economic Growth: Theory and Evidence from the International Experience," NBER Working Papers 11121, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Ehrlich, Isaac & Zhong, Jian-Guo, 1998. "Social Security and the Real Economy: An Inquiry into Some Neglected Issues," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 151-157, May.
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    1. Debating Social Democracy
      by Ross Douthat in Ross Douthat on 2010-01-06 09:06:00

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    Cited by:

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    2. Ralph Lattimore & Clinton Pobke, 2008. "Recent Trends in Australian Fertility," Staff Working Papers 0806, Productivity Commission, Government of Australia.
    3. Carlos Alviar & Roger Pearson, 2009. "Cash Transfers for Vulnerable Children in Kenya: From Political Choice to Scale Up," Working papers 0902, UNICEF,Division of Policy and Strategy.
    4. David E. Bloom & David Canning & Günther Fink & Jocelyn E. Finlay, 2010. "The Cost of Low Fertility in Europe [Le coût de la basse fécondité en Europe]," European Journal of Population, Springer;European Association for Population Studies, vol. 26(2), pages 141-158, May.
    5. Jesús J. Sánchez-Barricarte, 2017. "The long-term determinants of marital fertility in the developed world (19th and 20th centuries): The role of welfare policies," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 36(42), pages 1255-1298.
    6. David E. Bloom & David Canning & Günther Fink & Jocelyn E. Finlay, 2008. "The High Cost of Low Fertility in Europe," PGDA Working Papers 3208, Program on the Global Demography of Aging.
    7. Martin Werding, 2014. "Children are costly, but raising them may pay," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 30(8), pages 253-276.

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    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development

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