Are Environmental Concerns Deterring People from Having Children? Longitudinal Evidence on Births in the UK

45 Pages Posted: 24 Aug 2023

See all articles by Ben Lockwood

Ben Lockwood

University of Warwick - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Nattavudh Powdthavee

Nanyang Technological University (NTU)

Andrew J. Oswald

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

Abstract

Do ‘green’ environmental concerns -- such as about biodiversity, climate change, pollution -- deter citizens from having children? This paper reports the first longitudinal evidence consistent with that increasingly discussed hypothesis. 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 substantially less likely to go on later to have offspring (or fewer offspring). In the later analysis we adjust statistically for a large set of potential confounders. They include people’s age, education, income, marital status, mental health, life satisfaction, optimism, and physical health. Because there might also 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 estimated to be approximately 70% more likely to go on to have a child than a deeply committed environmentalist.

Note:
Funding declaration: No explicit funding source.

Conflict of Interests: The authors declare none

Keywords: Fertility, child-bearing, Climate Change, births, environment, green

Suggested Citation

Lockwood, Ben and Powdthavee, Nattavudh and Oswald, Andrew J., Are Environmental Concerns Deterring People from Having Children? Longitudinal Evidence on Births in the UK. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4542920 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4542920

Ben Lockwood

University of Warwick - Department of Economics ( email )

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United Kingdom
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Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

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CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

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Nattavudh Powdthavee

Nanyang Technological University (NTU) ( email )

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Singapore

Andrew J. Oswald (Contact Author)

University of Warwick - Department of Economics ( email )

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United Kingdom
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IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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