Financial Incentives and Fertility
Review of Economics and Statistics, Volume 95 (Number 1), March 2013, pp. 1-20.
Dehejia, Rajeev and Alma Cohen.
This paper investigates how fertility responds to financial incentives. We construct a large, individual-level panel data set of over 300,000 Israeli women during the period 1999–2005 with comprehensive information on their fertility histories, education, religious affiliation, ethnicity, and income. We exploit variation in Israel’s child subsidy program to identify the impact of changes in the price of a marginal child on fertility. We find a positive, statistically significant, and economically meaningful price effect on fertility. This positive effect is strongest for households in the lower range of the income distribution, weakens with income, and is present in all religious and ethnic subgroups. There is also a significant price effect on fertility among women who are close to the end of their lifetime fertility, suggesting that at least part of the effect that we estimate is due to a reduction in total fertility. Finally, we investigate how changes in household income affect fertility choices. Consistent with Becker (1960) and Becker and Tomes (1976), we find that the income effect is small in magnitude, and is negative at low income levels and positive at high income levels.