PurposeCost-benefit theory cannot explain the inverse relationship between education and fertility behavior among developed countries. The purpose of this paper is to examine psychological factors in fertility decisions, focusing on the number of children and determinants involved in the decision to have three or more children.Design/methodology/approachTwo empirical models were employed utilizing data from the Japanese General Social Survey of 2005 and 2006. An ordered logit model was used to examine how educational background impacts the number of children people choose to have. A logit model focused on psychological factors was used to investigate the effect of the burden of childcare on the decision to have more children.FindingsThe probability of a third birth declines as the number of years of education increases for women, but not for men. Women whose mothers were housewives tended to have fewer children, whereas women who live in families and are homeowners were likely to have more children. For women, the most influential factor in the decision to have a child was awareness of childrearing costs. Men from higher-class, higher-income families tended to have more children.Practical implicationsThe analysis indicates that maternal leave or systemic re-employment support can impact a woman’s decision to have a child.Social implicationsThe inverse relationship between women’s fertility behavior and education can be partially explained by the awareness among educated women of the duties and burdens of childrearing.Originality/valueThis study contributes to practical information concerning the role of psychological factors in fertility decisions.
International Journal of Social Economics – Emerald Publishing
Published: May 8, 2017
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