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Children and the Wealth of Nations

  • Juan Cordoba

    (Iowa State University)

The welfare of an individual depends on the quality and quantity of life. The quantity of life itself depends on longevity but also on the number of descendants. Specifically, children, grandchildren, etc, offer an alternative way to extend life for altruistic parents. Everything else equal, a lower fertility rate reduces the welfare of altruistic parents. This paper incorporates fertility into an overall assessment of the degree and evolution of cross-country inequality around the world and shows that it is quantitatively important. Our calculations suggest a major quantity-quantity trade-off: for the period 1970-2005, the overall welfare gains due to longevity improvements were mostly offset by the welfare loss due fertility reductions. The effective quantity of life remained roughly constant.

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File URL: https://economicdynamics.org/meetpapers/2012/paper_1052.pdf
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Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2012 Meeting Papers with number 1052.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:red:sed012:1052
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Society for Economic Dynamics Marina Azzimonti Department of Economics Stonybrook University 10 Nicolls Road Stonybrook NY 11790 USA

Web page: http://www.EconomicDynamics.org/
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  1. Barro, Robert J & Becker, Gary S, 1989. "Fertility Choice in a Model of Economic Growth," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 481-501, March.
  2. Córdoba, Juan Carlos & Verdier, Geneviève, 2008. "Inequality and growth: Some welfare calculations," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 32(6), pages 1812-1829, June.
  3. Viscusi, W Kip, 1993. "The Value of Risks to Life and Health," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 31(4), pages 1912-46, December.
  4. Birchenall, Javier A. & Soares, Rodrigo R., 2007. "Altruism, Fertility, and the Value of Children: Health Policy Evaluation and Intergenerational Welfare," IZA Discussion Papers 2783, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Cordoba, Juan Carlos & Ripoll, Marla, 2012. "Life, Death and World Inequality," Staff General Research Papers Archive 34945, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  6. Kevin M. Murphy & Robert H. Topel, 2005. "The Value of Health and Longevity," NBER Working Papers 11405, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. repec:reg:rpubli:282 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. Gary S. Becker & Robert J. Barro, . "A Reformulation of the Economic Theory of Fertility," University of Chicago - Population Research Center 85-11, Chicago - Population Research Center.
  9. Gary S. Becker & Tomas J. Philipson & Rodrigo R. Soares, 2005. "The Quantity and Quality of Life and the Evolution of World Inequality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 277-291, March.
  10. Viscusi, W Kip & Aldy, Joseph E, 2003. "The Value of a Statistical Life: A Critical Review of Market Estimates throughout the World," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 27(1), pages 5-76, August.
  11. Cordoba, Juan Carlos & Ripoll, Marla, 2011. "A Contribution to the Economic Theory of Fertility," Staff General Research Papers Archive 33899, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  12. Eve Chiapello & A. Hurand, 2011. "Contribution," Post-Print hal-00681170, HAL.
  13. Rodolfo E. Manuelli & Ananth Seshadri, 2009. "Explaining International Fertility Differences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(2), pages 771-807.
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