Househusbands and rising fertlity

On December 17, 2008, in fertility, research, by Karen Grepin

Fertility declines in industrialized nations over the past 50 years have been so dramatic that in many countries, including Italy, Spain, Germany, and Japan, total fertility rates are now far below what is known as the replacement rate of a population – or 2.1 children per woman (the replacement rate is basically the sum of how many adults it takes to make a baby – in theory 2 – plus some extra to account for death of the child before it gets the chance to reproduce).  Rising labor participation rates as well as high pay for women have long been thought to be responsible for these trends.  Working women have less time to have children and the rising wages make them  more costly due to the opportunity cost of lost wages.

It appears as though this relationship is not continuously increasing, according to the results of a recent study by authors Bruce Sacerdote, James Feyrer, and Ariel Stern (NBER Working Paper No. w14114). The authors find that in countries where female wages have continued to increase, men appear to be taking on more of household chores, perhaps due to the fact that some women are now earning more than their partners or are viewed more equally within the family unit, thereby making it more feasible for families to have more children.  In these countries total fertility rates have actually seen reversals, including here in the United States.

I guess this could be a upside for any parent whose daughter married “that guy”, the one that will never amount to much in life, at least they may have hope of getting more grandchildren.

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