Contraception and Fertility: Household Production Under Uncertainty

99 Pages Posted: 13 Dec 2006 Last revised: 25 Jul 2010

See all articles by Robert T. Michael

Robert T. Michael

University of Chicago; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Robert J. Willis

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: December 1973

Abstract

Over the past century fertility behavior in the United Stated has undergone profound changes Measured by cohort fertility the average number of children per married woman had declined from about 5.5 children at the time of the Civil War to 2.4 children at the time of the Great Depression. It is seldom emphasized however that an even greater relative change took place in the dispersion of fertility among these women: the percentage of women with, say, seven or more children declined from 36% to under 6%. While students of population have offered reasonably convincing explanations for the decline in fertility over time, they have not succeeded in explaining the fluctuations in the trend and have made surprisingly little effort to explain the large and systematic decline in the dispersion of fertility over time. In this paper we attempt to study contraception behavior and its effects on fertility. One of the effects on which we focus considerable attention is the dispersion or variance in fertility. Our analysis is applied to cross-sectional data but it also provides an explanation for the decline in the variance in fertility over time.

Suggested Citation

Michael, Robert T. and Willis, Robert J., Contraception and Fertility: Household Production Under Uncertainty (December 1973). NBER Working Paper No. w0021. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=259337

Robert T. Michael (Contact Author)

University of Chicago ( email )

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Robert J. Willis

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Economics ( email )

611 Tappan Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1220
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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