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Fertility decisions when infant survival is endogenous


There is evidence that fertility is positively correlated with infant mortality, and that a child‘s chance of surviving to maturity increases with the level of nutrition, medical care, etc. received in the early stages of life. By modelling parental decisions as a problem of choice under uncertainty, the paper shows that fertility and infant mortality are most likely to move in opposite directions if, as implicitly assumed by existing economic theories, parents believe that there is nothing they can do to improve the survival chances of their own children. By contrast, if parents realize that those chances improve with the amount they spend for the health, nutrition, etc. of each child that they put into the world, then fertility and infant mortality may move in the same direction. Under such an assumption, the model has the strong policy implication that directly death-reducing public expenditures are most effective, but stimulate population growth, at low levels of development. By contrast, at high levels of development, such expenditures tend to crowd out parental expenditures, and are a factor in fertility decline.

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Received: 14 October 1996 / Accepted: 28 July 1997

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Cigno, A. Fertility decisions when infant survival is endogenous. J Popul Econ 11, 21–28 (1998).

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  • JEL classification: I12
  • J13
  • O12
  • Key words: Endogeneous fertility
  • endogenous infant
  • mortality
  • development