Econometric Modeling of Human Fertility

A new GLO Discussion Paper reviews key contributions to econometric analysis of human fertility in the last 20 years.

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GLO Discussion Paper No. 574, 2020

Econometric Models of FertilityDownload PDF
Miranda, Alfonso & Trivedi, Pravin K.

GLO Fellow Alfonso Miranda

Author Abstract: This paper reviews some key contributions to econometric analysis of human fertility in the last 20 years, with special focus on discussion of prevailing econometric modeling strategies. We focus on the literature that highlights the role of the key drivers of the birth outcomes, including age at entry into motherhood, the number of children, and the time between births. Our overall approach is to highlight the use of single equation reduced form modelling, which has important advantages but has the limitation of typically being unable to shed light on detailed causal mechanisms through which exogenous factors such as birth control and infant mortality, and policy variables such as child allowances and tax incentives, impact fertility. Structural models that embed causal mechanisms explicitly are better suited for this objective. We start with a description of the subject matter, including a brief review of existing theories of fertility behavior and a detailed discussion of the sources of data that are available to the analyst. At this point we stress the intrinsic dynamic nature of fertility decisions and how such dynamics create data with empirical features that pose important challenges for modelling. Once the nature of the problem and the characteristics of the data are spelled out, we proceed to review the different econometric approaches that have been used for modelling fertility outcomes with cross-section and panel data.

Cited papers include:

  • Winkelmann, R. (1995). Duration dependence and dispersion in count-data models. Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, 13(4):467–474.
  • Winkelmann, R. and Zimmermann, K. (1994). Count data models for demographic data. Mathematical Population Studies, 4(3):205–221.
  • Winkelmann, R. and Zimmermann, K. F. (1991). A new approach for modeling economic count data. Economics Letters, 37(2):139–143.

GLO Discussion Papers are research and policy papers of the GLO Network which are widely circulated to encourage discussion. Provided in cooperation with EconStor, a service of the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, GLO Discussion Papers are among others listed in RePEc (see IDEAS,  EconPapers)Complete list of all GLO DPs – downloadable for free.


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