Are Children 'Normal'?

FRB of St. Louis Working Paper No. 2008-040E

46 Pages Posted: 3 Nov 2008 Last revised: 27 Mar 2011

See all articles by Dan Black

Dan Black

University of Chicago - Harris School of Public Policy

Natalia Kolesnikova

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Seth G. Sanders

University of Maryland - Department of Economics

Lowell J. Taylor

Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: March 25, 2011

Abstract

In his classic work on the economics of fertility, Becker (1960) suggests that children are likely “normal.” We examine this contention. Our first step is documenting an empirical regularity about the cross section of non-Hispanic white married couples in the U.S.: When we restrict comparisons to similarly-educated women living in similarly-expensive locations, completed fertility is positively correlated with the husband’s income. The empirical evidence is consistent with a simple model of household location and fertility choice, with children being “normal.” But this evidence does not settle issues of causality. In an effort to sort out causal effects, we undertake a rather specialized empirical exercise to analyze the localized impact on fertility of the mid 1970s increase in world energy prices—an exogenous shock that substantially increased men’s incomes in the Appalachian coal-mining region. Empirical evidence for that population indicates that fertility is increasing in men’s income.

Keywords: economics of fertility, location choice, Appalachian fertility

JEL Classification: J13, J40

Suggested Citation

Black, Dan and Kolesnikova, Natalia and Sanders, Seth G. and Taylor, Lowell J., Are Children 'Normal'? (March 25, 2011). FRB of St. Louis Working Paper No. 2008-040E. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1292804 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1292804

Dan Black

University of Chicago - Harris School of Public Policy ( email )

1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Natalia Kolesnikova (Contact Author)

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis ( email )

411 Locust St
Saint Louis, MO 63011
United States

Seth G. Sanders

University of Maryland - Department of Economics ( email )

College Park, MD 20742
United States

Lowell J. Taylor

Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States
412-268-3278 (Phone)
412-268-7036 (Fax)

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