Understanding how households make fertility decisions is important to implementing effective policy to slow population growth. Most empirical studies of this decision are based on household models in which men and women are assumed to act as if they have the same preferences for the number of children. However, if men and women have different preferences regarding fertility and are more likely to assert their own preferences as their bargaining power in the household increases, policies to lower fertility rates may be more effectively targeted toward one spouse or the other. In this paper, we test the relevance of the single preferences model by investigating whether men and women's nonwage incomes have the same effects on the number of children in the household. We find that while increases in both the man and woman's nonwage income lower the number of children in the household, an equivalent increase in the woman's income has a significantly stronger effect than the man's. In addition, we find that increases in women's nonwage transfer income have the strongest effects on the fertility decisions of women with low levels of education. The most important policy implication of our results is that policies aimed at increasing the incomes of the least-educated women will be the most effective in lowering fertility rates.
Population Research and Policy Review – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 3, 2004
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