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Fertility and Consumption when Having a Child is a Risky Investment

  • Gete, Pedro
  • Porchia, Paolo
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    In this paper we study a new factor that matters for fertility and consumption decisions: the risks associated with having and raising a child. We analyze a real options model with incomplete markets to explicitly model both children as a risky investment and the parental option to time fertility. We focus on CRRA preferences and uninsurable shocks to future parental income and to the costs of raising a child. We obtain several results that are new relative to the standard Beckerian fertility framework where children are deterministic goods: i) Independently of wealth, higher child cost volatility diminishes fertility. ii) Consumption is decreasing in higher cost volatility but the slope flattens as wealth increases. iii) Wealth alters the way in which the agent's risk tolerance impacts the fertility and consumption decisions. For low wealth levels, risk aversion speeds up fertility and lowers consumption with children serving as an utility insurance mechanism. iv) Fertility is increasing in the correlation between income and child cost shocks. v) The sign of this correlation determines if higher income volatility speeds up or delays fertility. vi) Fertility is U-shaped in the income over wealth ratio. Finally, we use regression analysis to provide empirical support for the theoretical results.

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    File URL: http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/34054/1/MPRA_paper_34054.pdf
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    Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 27885.

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    Date of creation: Dec 2010
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    Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:27885
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    1. Becker, Gary S & Murphy, Kevin M & Tamura, Robert, 1990. "Human Capital, Fertility, and Economic Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(5), pages S12-37, October.
    2. Emanuela Cardia & Serena Ng, 2003. "Intergenerational Time Transfers and Childcare," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 6(2), pages 431-454, April.
    3. Gary S. Becker, 1960. "An Economic Analysis of Fertility," NBER Chapters, in: Demographic and Economic Change in Developed Countries, pages 209-240 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Rajeev Dehejia & Adriana Lleras-Muney, 2004. "Booms, Busts, and Babies’ Health," Working Papers 250, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
    5. Caballero, Ricardo J, 1991. "Earnings Uncertainty and Aggregate Wealth Accumulation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(4), pages 859-71, September.
    6. Ai, Chunrong & Norton, Edward C., 2003. "Interaction terms in logit and probit models," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 123-129, July.
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