BREAD Working Paper No. 499, January 2017

Growth and Childbearing in the Short- and Long-Run

Shoumitro Chatterjee, Tom S. Vogl

Abstract

Despite being key to theories of economic growth and the demographic transition, evidence on how fertility responds to aggregate income change is mixed. We analyze economic growth and fertility change in the developing world over six decades, using data on 2.3 million women from 255 surveys in 81 countries. We find that fertility responds differently to fluctuations and long-run growth, and the nature of these responses varies over the lifecycle. Fertility is procyclical, falling during recessions, but also declines and delays with long-run growth. Lifetime fertility is affected by fluctuations near the end of the reproductive period but not those at prime reproductive age. Our results are consistent with models linking demography, human capital, and long-run growth, extended to include a lifecycle with liquidity constraints.

Keywords: Fertility, Economic Growth, Demographic Transition

JEL classification codes: E32,J13,O47

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