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Fertility and Consumption when Having a Child is a Risky Investment

  • Paolo Porchia

    (IE Business School)

  • Pedro Gete

    (Georgetown University)

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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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    Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2011 Meeting Papers with number 563.

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    Date of creation: 2011
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:red:sed011:563
    Contact details of provider: Postal: Society for Economic Dynamics Marina Azzimonti Department of Economics Stonybrook University 10 Nicolls Road Stonybrook NY 11790 USA
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    1. Gary S. Becker & Kevin M. Murphy & Robert Tamura, 1994. "Human Capital, Fertility, and Economic Growth," NBER Chapters, in: Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis with Special Reference to Education (3rd Edition), pages 323-350 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    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.
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    5. Kremer, Michael & Chen, Daniel L, 2002. " Income Distribution Dynamics with Endogenous Fertility," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 7(3), pages 227-58, September.
    6. Fernando Veloso, 2000. "Wealth Composition, Endogenous Fertility and the Dynamics of Income Inequality," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1281, Econometric Society.
    7. Hui Chen & Jianjun Miao & Neng Wang, . "Entrepreneurial Finance and Non-diversifiable Risk," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series wp2009-018, Boston University - Department of Economics.
    8. Ai, Chunrong & Norton, Edward C., 2003. "Interaction terms in logit and probit models," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 123-129, July.
    9. Daniel Chen & Michael Kremer, 1999. "Income-Distribution Dynamics with Endogenous Fertility," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 155-160, May.
    10. Michaela Kreyenfeld, 2005. "Economic uncertainty and fertility postponement: evidence from German panel data," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2005-034, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    11. Larry E. Jones & Alice Schoonbroodt & Michèle Tertilt, 2010. "Fertility Theories: Can They Explain the Negative Fertility-Income Relationship?," NBER Chapters, in: Demography and the Economy, pages 43-100 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Caballero, Ricardo J, 1991. "Earnings Uncertainty and Aggregate Wealth Accumulation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(4), pages 859-71, September.
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