Fertility theories: can they explain the negative fertility-income relationship?

Jones, Larry E., Schoonbroodt, Alice and Tertilt, Michele (2010) Fertility theories: can they explain the negative fertility-income relationship? In, Shoven, John B. (eds.) Demography and the Economy. NBER Conference Cambridge, GB, National Bureau for Economic Research, 77. (National Bureau of Economic Research Working Papers, 14266).


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Original Publication URL: http://www.nber.org/chapters/c8406


In this chapter we revisit the relationship between income and fertility. There is overwhelming empirical evidence that fertility is negatively related to income in most countries at most times. Several theories have been proposed in the literature to explain this somewhat puzzling fact. The most common one is based on the opportunity cost of time being higher for individuals with higher earnings. Alternatively, people might differ in their desire to procreate and accordingly some people invest more in children and less in market-specific human capital and thus have lower earnings. We revisit these and other possible explanations. We find that these theories arenot as robust as is commonly believed. That is, several special assumptions are needed to generate the negative relationship. Not all assumptions are equally plausible. Such findings will be useful to distinguish alternative theories. We conclude that further research along these lines is needed.

Item Type: Book Section
Related URLs:
Subjects: R Medicine > RG Gynecology and obstetrics
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
H Social Sciences > HA Statistics
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Social Sciences > Economics
ePrint ID: 150067
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
August 2010Published
Date Deposited: 05 May 2010 11:04
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 13:23
Centre for Population Change: Understanding Population Change in the 21st Century
Funded by: ESRC National Centre for Research Methods (RES-625-28-0001)
Led by: Jane Cecelia Falkingham
1 January 2009 to 31 December 2013
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/150067

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