November 1996

Timing of Childbearing, Family Size, and Economic Growth

Murat F. Iyigun


This paper incorporates the timing of childbearing into a growth model with endogenous fertility. It analyzes a model in which individuals' human capital stock depends positively on their education and parental human capital and in which producing and raising children and acquiring human capital are intensive. The model highlights how changes in the human capital stock interact with individuals' timing of childbearing in affecting the evolution of the economy. It shows that, if the complementarity between parental human capital and education in determining individuals' human capital is relatively large, then increases in the human capital stock raise the opportunity cost of having children while young and induce individuals to delay childbearing. That, in turn, accelerates human capital accumulation in the future. The model also demonstrates that early childbearing may lead to a development trap with low human capital.

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