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Children and the Wealth of Nations

Juan Cordoba ()

No 1052, 2012 Meeting Papers from Society for Economic Dynamics

Abstract: The welfare of an individual depends on the quality and quantity of life. The quantity of life itself depends on longevity but also on the number of descendants. Specifically, children, grandchildren, etc, offer an alternative way to extend life for altruistic parents. Everything else equal, a lower fertility rate reduces the welfare of altruistic parents. This paper incorporates fertility into an overall assessment of the degree and evolution of cross-country inequality around the world and shows that it is quantitatively important. Our calculations suggest a major quantity-quantity trade-off: for the period 1970-2005, the overall welfare gains due to longevity improvements were mostly offset by the welfare loss due fertility reductions. The effective quantity of life remained roughly constant.

Date: 2012
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