IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/wdi/papers/2005-788.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Does Economic Uncertainty Affect the Decision to Bear Children? Evidence from East and West Germany

Author

Listed:
  • Sumon Kumar Bhaumik

    ()

  • Jeffrey B. Nugent

    ()

Abstract

Although economic agents routinely face various types of economic uncertainty, their effects are often unclear and hard to assess, in part due to the absence of suitable measures of uncertainty. Because of the numerous and very substantial institutional changes that people in the transition economies of Central and Eastern Europe experienced during the last two decades, these countries are excellent candidates for examining the effects of uncertainties on various kinds of behavior. During their periods of uncertainty, moreover, these countries have experienced sharply falling fertility rates. Some have argued that these two phenomena are linked but others have remained skeptical in view of the fact that the evidence is largely confined to the macro level. This paper demonstrates the existence of such a link at the micro level using two different types of uncertainty measures based on GSOEP data from Eastern (and for comparison purposes also Western) Germany for the years 1992-2002. The results suggest that employment uncertainty (but not financial uncertainty) was considerably greater in Eastern Germany during its transition than in Western Germany and had a highly nonlinear effect on the probability of a birth in any period. The result is rather robust to differences in specification and suggests that the higher employment uncertainty in East Germany in the transition could have contributed significantly to the sharp fall and unusually low level of its fertility. In view of the results, we argue that an options based theory is perhaps a richer analytical paradigm for a discussion of fertility decisions in a rapidly changing environment than the traditional Beckerian theory.

Suggested Citation

  • Sumon Kumar Bhaumik & Jeffrey B. Nugent, 2005. "Does Economic Uncertainty Affect the Decision to Bear Children? Evidence from East and West Germany," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series wp788, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  • Handle: RePEc:wdi:papers:2005-788
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/2027.42/40174/3/wp788.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Engelhardt, Gary V. & Mayer, Christopher J., 1998. "Intergenerational Transfers, Borrowing Constraints, and Saving Behavior: Evidence from the Housing Market," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 135-157, July.
    2. Bonin, Holger & Euwals, Rob, 2001. "Participation Behavior of East German Women after German Unification," IZA Discussion Papers 413, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Debra Friedman & Michael Hechter & Satoshi Kanazawa, 1994. "A theory of the value of children," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 31(3), pages 375-401, August.
    4. Michael Lechner, 2005. "The Empirical Analysis of East German Fertility after," Labor and Demography 0505005, EconWPA.
    5. Stacy Dickert-Conlin & Amitabh Chandra, 1999. "Taxes and the Timing of Birth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(1), pages 161-177, February.
    6. Avinash K. Dixit & Robert S. Pindyck, 1994. "Investment under Uncertainty," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 5474.
    7. Michaela Kreyenfeld, 2000. "Employment careers and the timing of first births in East Germany," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2000-004, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    8. Angelika Tölke, 2003. "Insecurities in employment and occupational careers and their impact on the transition to fatherhood in Western Germany," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2003-016, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    9. Tomás Sobotka, 2004. "Is Lowest-Low Fertility in Europe Explained by the Postponement of Childbearing?," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 30(2), pages 195-220.
    10. Liliana E. Pezzin & Barbara Steinberg Schone, 1999. "Intergenerational Household Formation, Female Labor Supply and Informal Caregiving: A Bargaining Approach," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 34(3), pages 475-503.
    11. Angelika Tölke & Martin Diewald, 2003. "Insecurities in employment and occupational careers and their impact on the transition to fatherhood in Western Germany," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 9(3), pages 41-68, September.
    12. Laura Bernardi & Andreas Klärner & Holger von der Lippe, 2006. "Perceptions of job instability and the prospects of parenthood. A comparison between Eastern and Western Germany," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2006-017, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    13. Robert S. Chase, 2003. "Household fertility responses following communism: Transition in the Czech Republic and Slovakia," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 16(3), pages 579-595, August.
    14. Lechner, Michael, 1997. "Eine empirische Analyse der Geburtenentwicklung in den neuen Bundesländern," Discussion Papers 551, Institut fuer Volkswirtschaftslehre und Statistik, Abteilung fuer Volkswirtschaftslehre.
    15. Witte, James C. & Wagner, Gert G., 1995. "Declining Fertility in East Germany After Unification: A Demographic Response to Socioeconomic Change," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, pages 387-397.
    16. William A. Darity & Patrick L. Mason, 1998. "Evidence on Discrimination in Employment: Codes of Color, Codes of Gender," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 63-90, Spring.
    17. Bhaumik, Sumon Kumar & Nugent, Jeffrey B, 1999. "Analysis of Food Demand in Peru: Implications for Food-Feed Competition," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 3(3), pages 242-257, October.
    18. T.D. Stanley & Stephen B. Jarrell, 1998. "Gender Wage Discrimination Bias? A Meta-Regression Analysis," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(4), pages 947-973.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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


    Cited by:

    1. Brainerd, Elizabeth, 2010. "The Demographic Transformation of Post-Socialist Countries," WIDER Working Paper Series 015, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    2. Gete, Pedro & Porchia, Paolo, 2010. "Fertility and Consumption when Having a Child is a Risky Investment," MPRA Paper 27885, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Ariane Pailhé & Anne Solaz, 2012. "The influence of employment uncertainty on childbearing in France: A tempo or quantum effect?," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 26(1), pages 1-40, January.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Falling Fertility; Uncertainty; Germany;

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    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:wdi:papers:2005-788. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (WDI). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/wdumius.html .

    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.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with 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.

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

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.