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In medio stat filius. The relationship between time preferences and fertility

Daniela Bellani (), Bruno Arpino () and Daniele Vignoli ()
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Daniela Bellani: Dipartimento di Statistica, Informatica, Applicazioni "G. Parenti", Università di Firenze,

No 2020_02, Econometrics Working Papers Archive from Universita' degli Studi di Firenze, Dipartimento di Statistica, Informatica, Applicazioni "G. Parenti"

Abstract: OBJECTIVE: Time discounting preference (TDP) is a trait indicating to what extent individuals prefer immediate but lower benefits versus future but higher benefits. It can also be interpreted as the inclination to be more or less impatient. TDP has been found to influence different human decisions, including health behaviour and schooling investments. This study is the first that explores whether this trait represents a determinant of fertility. BACKGROUND: Fertility decisions, like all life actions, imply a balancing of anticipated costs and benefits the expectations for which are formed under uncertainty. Fertility research has addressed a multitude of ‘backward’ correlates (socio-demographic or biological factors) of fertility decisions. Yet, the role of ‘forward’ factors, such as TDP, has never been explored. METHOD: Unique data from the panel component of the Survey of Household Income and Wealth carried out by the Bank of Italy every two years were used. We applied logistic regression models using a question included in the 2004, 2008, 2010 and 2012 waves to examine whether, net of backward factors, impatience affects first (N=760) and second (N=1284) parity progressions. RESULTS: Findings indicate an inversed U-shape relationship between impatience and the probability of the transition to the first and the second child. For very patient and for very impatient individuals the probability of having a child is lower than for those with intermediate levels of impatience. CONCLUSION: The empirical findings point to the need to consider TDP in fertility research so as to gain a more complete understanding of fertility behaviour.

Keywords: Fertility; Time-Discounting Preferences; Italy (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 38 pages
Date: 2020-01
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