P10: Poverty and demography

PIs: Strulik (leading), Klasen, Puhani, Krivobokova

Since the second wave of globalization of the 1980s, fertility rates have fallen dramatically in developing countries; in many countries that are closely integrated into the world economy, fertility rates have fallen to below replacement levels so that a population implosion is, on balance, as likely as a continued population explosion. More interestingly, even countries and population groups that have apparently been bypassed by globalization, have seen falling fertility rates even in stagnant economic environments, where the traditional determinants of fertility (e.g., female education and earnings, urbanization, etc.) do not seem to account for the change. Of particular interest is to study the changing fertility behavior of poor households, as this is seen as an important driver of their poverty and additionally also affects it via affecting inequality. The focus of this project will therefore be to study to what extent poor households in developing countries adjust their fertility behavior in response to globalization, and what in turn this implies for participation of households in globalization processes. Empirically, this research project focuses mostly on analyzing fertility behavior in across-country context using comparable micro data sets With respect to theory, a challenging task is to integrate attitudes and beliefs into economic models of family with endogenous fertility and education choice in order to better understand how social norms are helpful to understand both apparent stagnation of fertility at high levels as well as the very rapid decline of fertility, once the transition is initiated. The availability of new panel databases from developing countries allow to investigate the driving forces of different skill migration groups to different destination countries, the labor supply responses of the left-behind members in the migrant households as well as the effects of migration on children education in migrant countries. We intend to investigate these questions in this project.

Possible dissertation topics:

  • How norms about fertility transmit along the income distribution: Theory and evidence from developing countries
  • Fertility as a coordination game: Theory and evidence
  • Drivers of the stalled fertility decline in parts of Sub-Saharan Africa