European Journal of Population

, Volume 30, Issue 2, pp 187–221 | Cite as

Does Economic Advancement ‘Cause’ a Re-increase in Fertility? An Empirical Analysis for OECD Countries (1960–2007)

  • Angela Luci-Greulich
  • Olivier ThévenonEmail author


In the light of the recent reversal of fertility trends in several highly developed countries, we investigate the impact of economic development and its components on fertility in OECD countries from 1960 to 2007. We find that the strong negative correlation between GDP per capita does no longer hold for high levels of per capita economic output; the relation and fertility instead seems to turn into positive from a certain threshold level of economic development on. Survival of an inverse J-shaped association between GDP per capita and fertility is found when controlling for birth postponement, omitted variable bias, non-stationarity and endogeneity. However, gaps between actual and predicted fertility rates show implicitly the importance of factors influencing fertility above and over per capita income. By decomposing GDP per capita into several components, we identify female employment as co-varying factor for the fertility rebound that can be observed in several highly developed countries. Pointing out to important differences with regard to the compatibility between childbearing and female employment, our results suggest that fertility increases are likely to be small if economic development is not accompanied by institutional changes that improve parents’ opportunities to combine work and family life.


Fertility Economic development Female employment 



This research was funded by the European Commission within the project ‘Reproductive decision-making in a macro–micro perspective’ (REPRO) in the Seventh Framework Programme under the Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities theme (Grant Agreement: SSH-CT-2008-217173) ( The paper has benefited greatly from comments by the two anonymous referees and by many colleagues from the REPRO group, INED (Institut National d’Etudes Démographiques) and University Paris 1 Panthéon- Sorbonne. We also thank the participants of the Population American Association (PAA) meeting in Dallas, USA, the European Society for Population Economics (ESPE) congress in Essen, Germany, and the European Association for Population Studies (EAPS) conference in Vienna, Austria for their comments and advice, in particular Francesco Billari, Mikko Myrskylä and Peter McDonald. Furthermore, we thank Hye-Won Kim, Wooseok Ok and Youngtae Cho for their discussion at the Seoul International Conference on Population Prospects and Policy Responses. Tomas Sobotka, who provided the data on the adjusted tempo fertility rates, Willem Adema, Jean-Bernard Chatelain, Laurent Toulemon and Herbert Smith are also gratefully acknowledged for careful suggestions.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Economics DepartmentUniversité Paris 1 Panthéon SorbonneParisFrance
  2. 2.Institut National d’Etudes Démographiques (INED)Paris Cedex 20France

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