Arbetsrapport, Institutet för Framtidsstudier - Institute for Futures Studies
Fertility and relative cohort size
Abstract: This paper estimates the effect of changes in population
age structure on fertility. Few factors are as inseparable from economic
and demographic theories of underdevelopment as high fertility rates. Most
of the empirical literature on fertility focuses on a small set of
traditionally hypothesized determinants: incomes, men’s and women’s
education, infant mortality, and the rural share of the population. More
recently, Macunovich develops ideas by Easterlin about the potential impact
of population age structure on fertility, and provides empirical evidence
for its effects. We continue along the lines of Macunovich’s contribution
(4) Estimating fertility equations in which age structure and the
traditional determinants are included simultaneously. This may be
interpreted as a test of robustness of one set of variables when
controlling for the others. Or it may be interpreted as a test of
hypotheses concerning the mechanisms whereby one set of variables affects
(5) Testing for the consistency of cohort size effects
across continents and between the developing and developed regions
Testing one aspect of the mechanism whereby cohort size is hypothesized to
affect fertility, through women’s labor force participation.
accomplish these objectives, we econometrically estimate a static panel
equation using aggregate panel data on the relevant variables for 90
developed and developing countries observed every 5 years over the period
from 1950 to 1995. We find that:
(4) Age structure effects are found in
the hypothesized direction. They are remarkably large and very precisely
estimated even after controlling for all the major competing determinants
of fertility. Thus cohort size has strong effects that are independent of
the effects of income, men’s and women’s labor force participation rates,
men’s and women’s education, rurality, and infant mortality.
size effects are found in every continent within the developing world, as
well as in the developed world. Their magnitudes are remarkably similar
across continents and levels of development. Of all the variables included
in the regressions, cohort size has the most consistently large and
significant effect across all regions.
(6) The estimates of cohort size
effects survive controlling for women’s economic activity rates. This means
that cohort size effects are mediated by more than women’s labor supply
(and by more than all other effects controlled for in the specification).
We are still in need of an empirically validated theory of why cohort size
has a negative effect on fertility.
Keywords: fertility; population; cohort size; (follow links to similar papers)
JEL-Codes: J10; J11; J13; (follow links to similar papers)
16 pages, September 2007
ISSN 1652-120X; ISBN 978-91-85619-13-9
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