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  • Matthias Doepke (a1)


Before Gary Becker, fertility choice was widely considered to be outside the realm of economic analysis. Apart from intellectual tradition, one reason for this was that the data on fertility did not immediately suggest an economic mechanism. In industrialized countries, fertility had declined strongly over time, even though family incomes were rising. Similarly, in many studies using cross-sectional data the relationship between family income and fertility had been shown to be either flat or declining. To many observers, these observations suggested that the “taste” for children had waned over time and that high income families placed less value on childbearing than the poor.


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Department of Economics, Northwestern University, 2001 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208 (e-mail:


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