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Social aspirations and choice of fertility: why can status motive reduce per-capita growth?

Abstract

To examine the relationship between social aspirations, fertility choices and growth performances, we develop a R&D-based model in which individuals care about the number of children they bring up and their social status. In such an economy, we find that stronger status motives have a negative effect on growth. The reason is that individuals bring up fewer children, as children are an obstacle to the achievement of their social status. Introducing an endogenous choice of quality for children, we show that stronger status motives lead individuals to bring up fewer but higher quality children. In this case, social aspirations heighten the desire of parents to substitute the quantity for the quality of children because education of children fosters society’s productive ability, indirectly improving parents’ social status.

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Correspondence to Frederic Tournemaine.

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Responsible editor: Alessandro Cigno

I would like to thank Michael Bleaney, Juntip Boonprakaikawe, Trudy Owens, Kaipichit Ruengsrichaiya, two anonymous referees, and one editor of the review for their helpful comments and suggestions. I am grateful to the University of Nottingham (UK) for its support during the redaction of this paper.

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Tournemaine, F. Social aspirations and choice of fertility: why can status motive reduce per-capita growth?. J Popul Econ 21, 49–66 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00148-006-0133-4

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00148-006-0133-4

Keywords

  • Social aspirations
  • Fertility
  • Growth

JEL

  • D31
  • O34
  • O41