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GENUS. 1986 Jul-Dec; 42(3-4):13-21.The author examines the writings of Malthus and compares them with basic tenets of two modern economic approaches to fertility studies. It is suggested that "Leibenstein and Easterlin, on the one hand, base their arguments on the central role of aspirations and of relative income or status, whether it be that of the parents or of the friends and neighbors. We argue that aspirations and relative income effects are quite close to Malthus' ideas on 'forward looking' and self respect. The other modern economic approach to fertility studies, the Chicago school, is centered on the effect of human capital on consumption and fertility decisions, and we think that this idea was not too strange to Malthus when he emphasized foresight and the desire for knowledge." (SUMMARY IN FRE AND ITA) (EXCERPT)
Research in Population Economics. 1984; 5:29-50.A model of life cycle fertility is developed using the language and framework of optimal control theory. The chief characteristic of children that distinguishes them from other consumer durables is, in the language of the optimal growth theory, the "irreversibility of investment." As the good does not depreciate in the ordinary sense, the stock must be monotonically nondecreasing over time. The optimal profile of fertility is, for this reason, characterized by the same type of "bang-bang" behavior found in many optimal growth problems. Yet, the fertility decision is complicated considerably by several other factors. Chief among these is the intrinsic relation to the labor-supply decision, for having children implies inevitable constraints on the mother's or father's time. Thus, optimal labor-supply decisions also must be considered. The model is developed in stages, proceeding from very simple to the more complex models. 1 section introduces the impact of fertility on the future demands for home time. It is shown that optimal fertility profiles follow turnpike paths similar to those in the growth-theory literature. A subsequent section introduces labor-supply and human-captial considerations. As the models become more complex, solutions become harder to derive and are often only outlined. The analysis provides some theoretical basis for expecting certain shapes of the life-cycle profiles of fertility, labor supply, and wages. Fertility profiles may be of 2 shapes--one beginning at a high rate, falling to a lower rate, then to zero; and one beginning at zero, rising to a moderate rate, then falling back down to zero. Labor supply profiles can be of a number of different shapes, but the impact of childbearing is to lower hours worked during the early childrearing period. As the children mature, hours worked rise (or at least fall more slowly) as home time responsibilities lessen, although the level to which they rise will probably be lower than before the 1st birth. Log-wage profiles rise during the period before the 1st birth, then either fall or rise more slowly during the early years of childbearing, and then rise again as the children mature. These shapes have been inferred from a control-theory model that is quite complex and which could use considerably more delineation than has been achieved here. Closed-form solutions to the model have not been obtained, nor have any formal comparative dynamics been performed. As the model stands it is too complex to be empirically implemented. Such implementation would be desirable.
[Causal hypotheses on fertility: the preponderant role of the family unit] Hipotesis causales sobre fecundidad: el papel preponderante de la unidad familiar.
Revista Espanola de Investigaciones Sociologicas. 1983 Jan-Mar; (21):83-101.This article reviews fertility theories proposed by economists, sociologists, and demographers over the past few decades and assesses their suitability to the Spanish case. In the early 1960s the foundations for the so-called new home economics were laid by Becker and others of the Chicago school of microeconomics. Becker held that once contraception became available to all population groups, childbearing decisions would be made in the same way as those for any other consumer good. Becker concluded that income is a direct function of the number of children and their quality. In 1962 Friedmann, within the same model, argued that children like automobiles or any other good-were associated with benefits as well as costs. Judith Blake in 1968 criticized both positions, pointing out that the rich have not had more children in any developed society and that the acquisition of children is not under the same cost constraints as that of other goods. Modifications of the theory by Becker gave greater importance to sociological variables. Leibenstein proposed an explanatory model which related fertility change to economic development through an examination of costs and benefits at different stages. Easterlin used the theory of Kuznets cycles to argue that the size of a cohort is related negatively to its fertility, with the fundamental variable being the labor market. He later proposed a more elaborate model that synthesized economic and sociological arguments and introduced new variables with emphasis on endogenous preferences and ferility. Use of sociological concepts such as "tastes", "desires", and "behavior", and of the term "relative" to suggest subjective perceptions depending on cultural context has become common in economic theories of fertility. The only fertility model elaborated in demography is that of the demographic transition, which has been criticized for being more descriptive than explanatory. In sociology a series of variables have been related to fertility, with only partial success. Some of the hypotheses were studied by means of large surveys, a program culmintting in the World Fertility Survey. Fertility differentials by income and rural or urban residence have been the only 2 generalizable findings to date. Finally, the analytical model of Davis and Blake listed the intermediate variables through which social factors were related to fertility. Sociological explanations are increasing in importance for nonsociologists, especially economists and demographers, and family structure in particular has assumed strategic importance. A scarcity of empirical work on fertility in Spain has hampered testing of fertility theories there. Hypotheses bearing on the determinants of fertility decisions should be tested in Spain, with preconscious-factors such as imitation, pressure exerted by the family and social circle, and affective relations as well as structural factors examined.