Cover: The Economics of Fertility in Developed Countries

The Economics of Fertility in Developed Countries

A Survey

Published 1996

by V. Joseph Hotz, Jacob Alex Klerman, Robert Willis

Download eBook for Free

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 5.1 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.

This paper surveys the intellectual development and empirical implications of the literature on the economics of fertility as it applies to fertility behavior in developed economies. The authors have two primary objectives: First, they seek to review the important theoretical developments, or model features, spawned by attempts to explain household fertility behavior within a neoclassical framework. In the process they characterize how the development of the theory of the allocation of time, the concepts of household production theory, and human capital investment theory, among others, helped improve understanding of the fertility decisions of households in developed societies. Second, the authors attempt to characterize the implications that these models provide for empirical assessments of the determinants of fertility behavior. As is true in many other subfields of economics, strategies for identifying the effects of relationships implied by neoclassical economic models of consumer choice, even those as straightforward as the effect of a price change on a household's demand for a good, are often controversial. Assessing the validity of implications of economic models of fertility is no exception to this pattern. The authors characterize the identification problems as they arise in this context and highlight several studies which, in the authors' opinion, follow exemplary strategies for obtaining estimates of causal relationships, especially with respect to their credibility. The paper begins with a survey of trends in fertility in the United States, proceeds to discussions of static and dynamic models of fertility behavior, and is followed by an analysis of econometric approaches and empirical findings about the determinants of fertility. Some directions for future research are mentioned in the conclusion.

This report is part of the RAND draft series. The unrestricted draft was a product of RAND from 1993 to 2003 that represented preliminary or prepublication versions of other more formal RAND products for distribution to appropriate external audiences. The draft could be considered similar to an academic discussion paper. Although unrestricted drafts had been approved for circulation, they were not usually formally edited or peer reviewed.

This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit

RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.