Is the Drop in Fertility Due to the Great Recession or a Permanent Change?

Alicia Munnell, Boston College
Anqi Chen , Boston College
Geoffrey Sanzenbacher, Boston College

In the U.S., the current birth rate has declined since the Great Recession. The question is whether this decline is a temporary response to the recession or a drift to the lower levels seen in many other developed countries. This paper identifies factors from the literature – both cyclical and structural – that affect fertility and estimates the magnitude of these effects based cross-state variations. The cyclical analysis shows that while the total fertility rate (TFR) generally appears to be pro-cyclical, it has not rebounded with the economic recovery. As a result, the analysis decomposes the structural factors that affect fertility. The results show that an increase in the percent of college educated women, an increase in the ratio of childcare costs-to-income, and an increase in the female-male wage ratio can explain more than half of the decline in the total fertility rate since since the turn of the century.

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 Presented in Session 110. Projecting Fertility in a Time of Demographic Change: Will It Rise or Fall?