Gene-Environment Effects on Female Fertility

72 Pages Posted: 13 Oct 2021

See all articles by Nicola Barban

Nicola Barban

University of Bologna; University of Essex

Elisabetta De Cao

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - London School of Economics; IZA

Marco Francesconi

University of Essex; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: 2021

Abstract

Fertility has a strong biological component generally ignored by economists. Using the UK Biobank, we analyze the extent to which genes, proxied by polygenic scores, and the environment, proxied by early exposure to the contraceptive pill diffusion, affect age at first sexual intercourse, age at first birth, completed family size, and childlessness. Both genes and environment exert substantial influences on all outcomes. The anticipation of sexual debut and the postponement of motherhood led by the diffusion of the pill are magnified by gene-environment interactions, while the decline in family size and the rise in childlessness associated with female emancipation are attenuated by gene-environment effects. The nature-nurture interplay becomes stronger in more egalitarian environments that empower women, allowing genes to express themselves more fully. These conclusions are confirmed by heterogenous effects across the distributions of genetic susceptibilities and exposure to environmental risks, sister fixed effects models, mother-daughter comparisons, and counterfactual simulations.

Keywords: fertility, genetics, polygenic score, contraceptive pill, nature versus nurture, social norms

JEL Classification: D100, I140, I150, J010, J130, J160

Suggested Citation

Barban, Nicola and De Cao, Elisabetta and Francesconi, Marco, Gene-Environment Effects on Female Fertility (2021). CESifo Working Paper No. 9337, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3938650 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3938650

Nicola Barban

University of Bologna ( email )

Piazza Scaravilli 2
Bologna, 40100
Italy

University of Essex

Wivenhoe Park
Colchester, CO4 3SQ
United Kingdom

Elisabetta De Cao

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - London School of Economics ( email )

IZA ( email )

Marco Francesconi (Contact Author)

University of Essex ( email )

Wivenhoe Park
Colchester CO4 3SQ
United Kingdom
+44 1206 873 534 (Phone)
+44 1206 873 151 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

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

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
24
Abstract Views
119
PlumX Metrics