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Private and Social Incentives for Fertility: Israeli Puzzles

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  • Charles F. Manski
  • Joram Mayshar

Abstract

Whereas most of the world has experienced decreasing fertility during the past half century, Israel has experienced a puzzling mix of trends. Completed fertility has decreased sharply in some ethnic-religious groups (Mizrahi Jews and non-Bedouin Arabs) and increased moderately in other groups (non-ultra-orthodox Ashkenazi and Israeli-born Jews). In a phenomenon that can only be described as a reverse fertility transition, fertility has increased substantially (from about 3 to 6 children per women) among ultra-orthodox Ashkenazi and Israeli-born Jews. This paper explores how private and social incentives for fertility may have combined to produce the complex pattern of fertility in Israel. Theoretical analysis of the social dynamics of fertility shows that this pattern could have been generated by the joint effects of (a) private preferences for childbearing, (b) preferences for conformity to group fertility norms, and (c) the major child-allowance program introduced by the Israeli government in the 1970s. Econometric analysis of fertility decisions shows that fundamental identification problems make it difficult to infer the actual Israeli fertility process from data on completed fertility. Hence we are able to conjecture meaningfully on what may have happened, but we cannot definitively resolve the Israeli fertility puzzles.

Suggested Citation

  • Charles F. Manski & Joram Mayshar, 2002. "Private and Social Incentives for Fertility: Israeli Puzzles," NBER Working Papers 8984, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8984
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Moffitt, Robert, 1992. "Incentive Effects of the U.S. Welfare System: A Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(1), pages 1-61, March.
    2. Walker, James R, 1995. "The Effect of Public Policies on Recent Swedish Fertility Behavior," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 8(3), pages 223-251, August.
    3. Hotz, V Joseph & Miller, Robert A, 1988. "An Empirical Analysis of Life Cycle Fertility and Female Labor Supply," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(1), pages 91-118, January.
    4. William A. Brock & Steven N. Durlauf, 2001. "Discrete Choice with Social Interactions," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 68(2), pages 235-260.
    5. Charles F. Manski, 2000. "Economic Analysis of Social Interactions," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 115-136, Summer.
    6. Eli Berman, 2000. "Sect, Subsidy, and Sacrifice: An Economist's View of Ultra-Orthodox Jews," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 905-953.
    7. Boyer, George R, 1989. "Malthus Was Right after All: Poor Relief and Birth Rates in Southeastern England," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(1), pages 93-114, February.
    8. Charles F. Manski, 1993. "Identification of Endogenous Social Effects: The Reflection Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(3), pages 531-542.
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    Cited by:

    1. Iyer, S. & Weeks, M., 2004. "Multiple Social Interaction and Reproductive Externalities: An Investigation of Fertility Behaviour in Kenya," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0461, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    2. Joshua D. Angrist & Victor Lavy & Analia Schlosser, 2005. "New Evidence on the Causal Link Between the Quantity and Quality of Children," NBER Working Papers 11835, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Iyer, Sriya & Velu, Chander, 2006. "Real options and demographic decisions," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 39-58, June.
    4. Peng Yu, 2006. "Higher Education, the Bane of Fertility? An investigation with the HILDA Survey," CEPR Discussion Papers 512, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
    5. Miles S. Kimball & Colter M. Mitchell & Arland D. Thornton & Linda C. Young-Demarco, 2009. "Empirics on the Origins of Preferences: The Case of College Major and Religiosity," NBER Working Papers 15182, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue

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