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Is Menopause Optimal?

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  • Christian Zimmermann

    (University of Connecticut)

Abstract

Various theories have been put forward to explain the fact that humans experience menopause while virtually no animals do. This paper aims to investigate one such theory: children provide a savings technology into old age, but as human babies are usually large and have long gestation periods, a substantial risk of death exists for the mother as she bears children. It seems therefore appropriate to impose a stopping rule for fertility. Given an objective (support for old age) and demographics (mortality of mother and children), an optimal age for menopause can be calculated. Using demographic data from populations that have seen little influence from modern medicine, this optimal age is compared to empirical evidence.

Suggested Citation

  • Christian Zimmermann, 2004. "Is Menopause Optimal?," Working papers 2004-31, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:2004-31
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    File URL: http://web2.uconn.edu/economics/working/2004-31.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Bergstrom, Theodore C & Stark, Oded, 1993. "How Altruism Can Prevail in an Evolutionary Environment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 149-155, May.
    2. Donald Cox & Oded Stark, 1996. "Intergenerational Transfers and the Demonstration Effect," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 329., Boston College Department of Economics.
    3. Sundstrom, William A. & David, Paul A., 1988. "Old-age security motives, labor markets, and farm family fertility in antebellum American," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 164-197, April.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    menopause; demography; fertility; stopping rule; recursive problems.;

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • D13 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Production and Intrahouse Allocation
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making

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