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Forward looking and fertility in Germany. A dyadic approach.

Daniela Bellani, University of Bologna
Steffen Peters, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Daniele Vignoli, University of Florence

Fertility decisions, as all life actions, imply a balancing of anticipated costs and benefits whose expectations are formed under uncertainty. Fertility research has addressed the socio-economic, psychological, biological factors influencing fertility decisions. Yet, the role of time preferences in influencing fertility decisions has been overlooked. How an individual discounts time has been found to influence different types of choices, from financial investments to schooling decisions. Indeed, forward looking individuals are more likely to place emphasis on the utility of a certain choice in the more distant future. In contrast, those with short-time orientation greatly weight the utility in the present and in near future. Given that consequences of childbearing are immediate but also develop over time, what is the relationship between time preferences and fertility? This is the first study that implements a couple approach. We use longitudinal data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (GSOEP). In particular, we make use of a question included in the 2008, 2013 and 2018 waves to examine how assortative mating patterns based on time preferences can lead to a higher/lower likelihood of first and second parity transitions.

Keywords: Fertility and childbirth, Longitudinal studies, Applied demography

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  Presented in Session 85. European Fertility: Recent findings