Osea Giuntella, Lorenzo Rotunno, Luca Stella, 06 July 2022

Germany's low natality rate has been a major source of concern for politicians for decades. Using longitudinal data from the German Socio-Economic Panel, this column analyses the effects of trade integration on family choices in Germany. The authors find that exposure to greater import competition from Eastern Europe led to worse labour market outcomes and lower fertility rates. The trade effects are concentrated among men, low-educated, and full-time employees.

Yukiko Asai, Dmitri Koustas, 23 June 2022

Little is known about the effects of being a temporary contract holder on young workers’ subsequent labour market and family outcomes. This column provides insight into this question by studying a unique set of natural experiments in the Japanese airline industry, which changed the nature of the contract for flight attendants in the mid-1990s and then again in the mid-2010s. The authors find that workers starting on temporary contracts were less likely to remain with the firm over time and were significantly less likely to have children within ten years of starting the job. 

Scott Baker, Efraim Benmelech, Zhishu Yang, Qi Zhang, 11 May 2022

China’s high household savings rate remains a puzzle, with potential explanations including demographic, policy, and financial causes. This column investigates China’s savings rate using individual income and spending transactions linked to demographic characteristics and financial information on loan applications and credit availability. The authors match bank customers to administrative records covering marriage and births to obtain a unique insight into consumption and savings patterns around important life events. The results point to income growth, financial instability, and credit access, rather than directives such as the one-child policy, as the primary drivers of high savings among Chinese households.

Moshe Hazan, David Weiss, 11 March 2022

Until the second half of the 19th century, coverture laws granted married men almost unlimited power over the household. Moshe Hazan and David Weiss tell Tim Phillips about how abolition changed the number of children in a family, and how well those children were educated?

Read more about the research behind this Vox Talk and download the free DP:
Hazan, M, Weiss, D and Zoabi, H. 2021. 'Women's Liberation, Household Revolution'. CEPR

Moshe Hazan, David Weiss, Hosny Zoabi, 24 February 2022

In the late 19th century, US states began giving economic rights to married women. Before that, laws of ownership and control over property and income gave the husband virtually unlimited power within the household. This column examines how these changes in women’s economic power affected households and children. The findings suggest that expanding women’s rights increased their power at home, causing a ‘household revolution’ of decreased fertility and more education.

Gordon Dahl, 01 February 2022

Election results delight or disappoint us, but do they also affect the size of our families? New research examines the partisan impact of the 2016 US presidential election.

Read more about this research and download the free DP:
Dahl, G, Lu, R and Mullins, W. 2021. 'Partisan Fertility and Presidential Elections'. CEPR

Pauline Rossi, 19 November 2021

Do we have children to provide for us in our old age? Pauline Rossi tells Tim Phillips about the impact on the size of families in Namibia after the government granted a state pension – research that might have important implications for economic development in Africa.

Read more about the research behind this podcast and download the Discussion paper for free:

Godard, M and Rossi, P. 2021. 'The Old-Age Security Motive for Fertility: Evidence from the Extension of Social Pensions in Namibia'. CEPR

Picture credit: [email protected]

Philipp Ager, Francesco Cinnirella, 11 September 2020

At the beginning of the 20th century more than 7,000 kindergartens were set up in the US. Philipp Ager and Francesco Cinnirella tell Tim Phillips about the profound effect of preschool on the life chances of a generation of immigrants.

Philipp Ager, 05 August 2019

Phillip Ager asks whether the introduction of preschool education contributes to a fall in fertility in the industrialised world.

Brian Beach, Walker Hanlon, 04 August 2019

How economic factors shaped the historical fertility transition is well studied but the role played by cultural factors remains disputed, in part because establishing the direct effect of social norms is difficult. This column examines the relationship between England and Wales’s rapid fertility transition in the late 19th century and media exposure to the 1877 Bradlaugh-Besant trial, which challenged existing censorship laws related to family planning. It finds that fertility declined more rapidly after 1877 in locations with greater exposure to newspaper articles about the trial.

Sascha O. Becker, Ana Fernandes, Doris Weichselbaumer, 05 June 2019

The arrival of a child affects women and men differently in terms of labour market outcomes, but it is difficult to separate out the causal impact of discrimination from other factors. This column uses empirical evidence from Germany, Switzerland, and Austria to show that women are most affected in part-time job applications if they signal a ‘risk’ of having young children soon.

Philipp Ager, Benedikt Herz, 16 May 2019

The transition from high to low fertility rates is regarded as one of the most important determinants of sustainable long-run growth. But despite its importance, there is still an ongoing debate about its causes and timing. This column demonstrates that a sustained shift from agriculture to manufacturing contributed to the fertility decline in the American South at the turn of the 20th century. 

Bastien Chabé-Ferret, Paula Gobbi, 26 January 2019

Between the early 1940s and the late 1960s, the secular decline in fertility that started at the turn of the 19th century in most developed countries was interrupted by a massive baby-boom. This column argues that although much attention has focused on this boom, fertility rates preceding it were abnormally low. The evidence suggests that economic uncertainty can explain a substantial part of the major swings in fertility over the 20th century.

Henrik Kleven, Camille Landais, Jakob Egholt Søgaard, 12 July 2018

Despite considerable convergence over time, substantial gender inequality persists in all countries. Using Danish data, this column argues that this gap persists because the effects of having children on the careers of women relative to men are large and have not fallen over time. Additional findings suggest this effect may be related to inherited gender identity norms.

Paula Gobbi, Marc Goñi, 28 April 2018

We know inheritance practices have an impact on inequality, social mobility, and economic growth, but the effect on fertility decisions has often been ignored even though such decisions can affect the economic impact of inheritance. This column uses data on the British aristocracy to provide evidence of the two-way link between inheritance and fertility decisions on the extensive margin. This allows us to understand modern inheritance practices, such as trusts, that restrict successors.

Michael Bar, Moshe Hazan, Oksana Leukhina, David Weiss, Hosny Zoabi, 13 January 2018

Over recent decades, the trend for high-skilled, career-focused women to have fewer children, if any at all, has reversed. Using US data, this column shows that rising wage inequality is behind the reversal. Greater income inequality enables high-income families to outsource household production to lower-income people. Changes to minimum wage laws are thus likely to affect the fertility and career decisions of the rich.

Daniel Aaronson, Rajeev Dehejia, Andrew Jordan, Cristian Pop-Eleches , Cyrus Samii, Karl Schulze, 15 September 2017

Women’s fertility and labour supply decisions are made simultaneously, making it difficult to identify the effect of the former on the latter. This column explores the relationship using a dataset spanning 200 years and 103 countries, leveraging twin births to isolate causal effects. The key finding is that as countries develop, women’s labour supply becomes more responsive to additional children. The global decline in fertility over the last century has played a positive role in increasing women’s work in developed countries, but a negligible one in developing countries.

Thomas Baudin, David de la Croix, Paula Gobbi, 25 July 2017

The fertility of women in developing countries is higher on average than in developed countries, yet many women in developing countries remain childless. This column argues that understanding the causes of why some women choose childlessness is important if we wish to predict the impact that development policies have on the demographic transition of poor countries.

Wolfgang Frimmel, Martin Halla, Rudolf Winter-Ebmer, 18 August 2016

It has been widely demonstrated that parental divorce is associated with negative outcomes for affected children. However, the degree of causality in this relationship is not as clear. This column tackles this problem by using the level of gender integration in fathers’ workplaces as an instrument for divorce. The results suggest a causal link between divorce and worse economic outcomes that persists into early adulthood. 

Marianne Bertrand, Patricia Cortes, Claudia Olivetti, Jessica Pan, 21 June 2016

Marriage rates of skilled and unskilled women have evolved quite differently across countries since 1995. The rate is lower overall for skilled women but the gap is narrowing, and even reversing, in some countries. This column uses evidence from 23 countries between 1995 and 2010 to consider how skilled women’s labour market opportunities impact their marriage prospects in different societies. Generally, more conservative societies have lower marriage rates for skilled women relative to unskilled women, with the effects of an increase in skilled women’s wages depending on the degree of conservatism.

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