But not every result of lower fertility is so beneficial and a new study by David Bloom, David Canning, Gunther Fink and Jocelyn Finlay at the Harvard School of Public Health link to come identifies an unexpected effect: in the short term, lower fertility can lead to higher inequality.
It is no surprise that fertility and wealth should be connected. Countries with the highest fertility rates (such as Niger, Mali and Chad, where women can expect to have six or seven children in their lifetimes) are also among the poorest. And, with some significant exceptions (such as China), low-fertility countries tend to be rich. And that pattern is replicated within countries. As a general rule, the poor tend to have larger families.
This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.
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Monday, August 13, 2012
Does Declining Fertility Explain Inequality in Developing Countries?
This week's Economist has a "Free Exchange" column (with an expanded online version) in which findings from recent demographic studies are cited showing that income inequality in developing countries is made worse by a decline in fertility. Declining fertility is nearly always associated with a rise in per person income because even if wages don't rise, there are fewer people with whom a worker has to share his or her income.