Are Environmental Concerns Deterring People from Having Children?

37 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2022

See all articles by Ben Lockwood

Ben Lockwood

University of Warwick

Nattavudh Powdthavee

University of Warwick

Andrew J. Oswald

University of Warwick - Department of Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Abstract

Are 'green' environmental concerns -- about climate change, biodiversity, pollution -- deterring today's citizens from having children? This paper, which we believe to be the first of its kind, reports preliminary evidence consistent with that increasingly discussed hypothesis. Our study has a simple longitudinal design. It follows through time a random sample of thousands of initially childless men and women in the UK. Those individuals who are committed to a green lifestyle are found to be less likely to go on to have offspring. Later analysis adjusts statistically for a large set of potential confounders, including age, education, marital status, mental health, life satisfaction, optimism, and physical health. Because there might be unobservable reasons why those who are pro-environmental may be less likely to want a child, and to try to ensure that the finding cannot be explained by selection and omitted variables, the paper explores Oster's (2019) bounds test. The paper's final estimated effect-size is substantial: a person entirely unconcerned about environmental behaviour is found to be approximately 60% more likely to go on to have a child when compared to a deeply committed environmentalist.

Note:
Funding Information: No explicit funding source.

Conflict of Interests: The authors declare none.


Keywords: fertility, child-bearing, climate change, environment, green

JEL Classification: J1, Q50

Suggested Citation

Lockwood, Ben and Powdthavee, Nattavudh and Oswald, Andrew J., Are Environmental Concerns Deterring People from Having Children?. IZA Discussion Paper No. 15620, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4241599 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4241599

Ben Lockwood (Contact Author)

University of Warwick ( email )

Gibbet Hill Rd.
Coventry, CV4 8UW
United Kingdom

Nattavudh Powdthavee

University of Warwick ( email )

Gibbet Hill Rd.
Coventry, West Midlands CV4 8UW
United Kingdom
+44 (0)2476 528240 (Phone)

Andrew J. Oswald

University of Warwick - Department of Economics ( email )

Coventry CV4 7AL
United Kingdom
523510 (Phone)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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