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The Old-Age Security Motive for Fertility: Evidence from the Extension of Social Pensions in Namibia


  • Pauline Rossi

    (University of Amsterdam)

  • Mathilde Godard



The old-age security motive for fertility postulates that people's needs for old-age support raise the demand for children. We test this widespread idea using the extension of social pensions in Namibia during the nineties. The reform eliminated inequalities in pension coverage and benefit across regions and ethnic groups. Combining differences in pre-reform pensions and dfferences in exposure across cohorts, we show that pensions substantially reduce fertility, especially in late reproductive life. This article provides the first quasi-experimental quantification of the old-age security motive. The results suggest that improving social protection for the elderly could go a long way in fostering fertility decline in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Suggested Citation

  • Pauline Rossi & Mathilde Godard, 2019. "The Old-Age Security Motive for Fertility: Evidence from the Extension of Social Pensions in Namibia," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 19-069/V, Tinbergen Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:tin:wpaper:20190069

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    2. Céline Zipfel, 2022. "The demand side of Africa's demographic transition: desired fertility, wealth, and jobs," STICERD - Economic Organisation and Public Policy Discussion Papers Series 71, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
    3. Madeline E. Duhon & Edward Miguel & Amos Njuguna & Daniela Pinto Veizaga & Michael W. Walker, 2023. "Preparing for an Aging Africa: Data-Driven Priorities for Economic Research and Policy," NBER Working Papers 31750, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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    More about this item


    Fertility; Old-age pensions; Social security; Africa; Difference-in-differences;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D15 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Intertemporal Household Choice; Life Cycle Models and Saving
    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • O55 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Africa

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