The Fertility Transition: Economic Explanations

20 Pages Posted: 10 Oct 2001

See all articles by T. Paul Schultz

T. Paul Schultz

Yale University - Economic Growth Center; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: August 2001

Abstract

Economic explanations for the fertility transition focus on the role of returns to schooling, especially for women, which have encouraged women to obtain more education and facilitated the rise in women's wages relative to men's. The private opportunity costs of children have therefore increased, and parents have been motivated to substitute child schooling for additional births. Declines in fertility have proceeded unevenly, first across the high income countries, and more recently across the low income countries. The cross sectional differentials in fertility are also frequently analyzed in household surveys, suggesting parallels with the cross-country comparisons. At an aggregate level, states have simultaneously legislated socialized support for the consumption of the elderly, which has eroded the incentives for childbearing, and subsidized child human capital through schools and public health programs, which has encouraged parents to demand fewer, higher quality, children.

Keywords: Fertility Transition, Women's Schooling, Women's Wages, Child Mortality

JEL Classification: D19, J10, J13, N30

Suggested Citation

Schultz, T. Paul, The Fertility Transition: Economic Explanations (August 2001). Economic Growth Center Discussion Paper No. 833, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=286291

T. Paul Schultz (Contact Author)

Yale University - Economic Growth Center ( email )

Box 208269
New Haven, CT 06520-8269
United States
203-432-3620 (Phone)
203-432-5591 (Fax)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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