IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Fertility and the Value of Life


  • Rodrigo R. Soares
  • Javier A. Birchenall


This paper incorporates fertility and altruism into the ``value of life'' framework. Two dimensions of fertility and altruism are important in evaluating life expectancy and health related gains. First, child mortality can be very important in determining welfare in a context where individuals choose the number of children they have. Second, if altruism motivates fertility, life expectancy gains have a twofold effect: they directly increase utility via increased survival probabilities, and they increase utility via increased welfare of the offspring. We develop a manageable way to deal with value of life valuations when fertility choices are endogenous and individuals are altruistic towards their offspring. Calculations using U.S. data between 1965 and 1995 show that altruism and fertility can easily double the value of mortality reductions obtained using the traditional framework

Suggested Citation

  • Rodrigo R. Soares & Javier A. Birchenall, 2004. "Fertility and the Value of Life," 2004 Meeting Papers 232, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed004:232

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: main text
    Download Restriction: no


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. João Manoel Pinho de Mello, 2010. "Reassessing the Demography Hypothesis: the Great Brazilian Crime Shift," Textos para discussão 579, Department of Economics PUC-Rio (Brazil).

    More about this item


    value of life; fertility; marginal willingness to pay; mortality;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J17 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Value of Life; Foregone Income
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:red:sed004:232. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no bibliographic references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Christian Zimmermann (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.