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Female Relative Wages, Household Specialization and Fertility

Christian Siegel

Review of Economic Dynamics, 2017, vol. 24, 152-174

Abstract: Falling fertility rates have often been linked to rising female wages. However, over the last 40 years the US total fertility rate has been rather stable while female wages have continued to grow. Over the same period, women's hours spent on housework have declined, but men's have increased. I propose a model in which households are not perfectly specialized, but both men and women contribute to home production. As the gender wage gap narrows, the time allocations of men and women converge, and while fertility falls at first, the decline stops when female wages are close to male's. Rising relative wages increase women's labor supply and due to higher opportunity cost lower fertility at first, but they also lead to a reallocation of home production and child care from women to men, and a marketization. I find that both are important in understanding why fertility did not decline further. In a further quantitative exercise I show that the model performs well in matching fertility over the entire 20th century, including the overall decline, the baby boom, and the recent stabilization. (Copyright: Elsevier)

Keywords: Fertility; Female labor supply; Household production; Intrahousehold allocations (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D13 E24 J13 J22 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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DOI: 10.1016/j.red.2017.01.010

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