Countercyclical U.S. fertility and its implications

by William Butz, Michael P. Ward

Purchase Print Copy

 FormatList Price Price
Add to Cart Paperback15 pages $20.00 $16.00 20% Web Discount

Uses an economic model of fertility behavior to explain fluctuations in fertility rates and to predict future rates. It directs attention to two variables: family income and the opportunity cost of women's time. It predicts that women who earn higher wages in the labor market will have fewer children because the opportunity cost of their time with children is higher. As more women are employed the former positive relationship between business cycles and fertility breaks down, and fertility rates may move countercyclically. Estimation of the model concentrates on U.S. fertility trends since 1947. Forecasting based on this model indicates that the current downtrend in births is not a case of delayed births likely to be made up later. As long as women's real wages continue to rise and a large proportion of women are employed, continuing fertility declines can be expected. The societal implications of these declines are discussed.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation paper series. The paper was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 2003 that captured speeches, memorials, and derivative research, usually prepared on authors' own time and meant to be the scholarly or scientific contribution of individual authors to their professional fields. Papers were less formal than reports and did not require rigorous peer review.

The RAND Corporation 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.