The Increasing Importance of Economic Conditions on Fertility

Research output: Working paperWorking papers


This paper investigates whether there has been a fundamental change in the
importance of economic conditions on fertility. Through the 1980s econometric
studies had found at best a mixed, neutral or negative effect of economic
conditions on fertility. Notably, Butz and Ward (1979) concluded that fertility
was counter-cyclical, with fertility falling in good times, as the opportunity
costs of childbearing rose.
More recently, there have been signs that uctuations in fertility have been
pro-cyclical, with good economic times being associated with higher birth rates,
and the recent recession with lower birth rates.
In this paper, we use panel methods to study short term changes in aggregate
fertility and economic measures in OECD countries from 1976-2008.
We find indeed that fertility became positively associated with good economic
Furthermore, the increasing importance of economic conditions was detected
for both tempo and quantum.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationRostock
PublisherMax-Planck-Institut für demografische Forschung
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2010