Bargaining over babies: Theory, evidence, and policy implications

Matthias Doepke, Fabian Kindermann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


It takes a woman and a man to make a baby. This fact suggests that for a birth to take place, the parents should first agree on wanting a child. Using newly available data on fertility preferences and outcomes, we show that indeed, babies are likely to arrive only if both parents desire one. In addition, there are many couples who disagree on having babies, and in low-fertility countries women are much more likely than men to be opposed to having another child. We account for this evidence with a quantitative model of household bargaining in which the distribution of the burden of child care between mothers and fathers is a key determinant of fertility. The model implies that fertility is highly responsive to targeted policies that lower the child care burden specifically for mothers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3264-3306
Number of pages43
JournalAmerican Economic Review
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics


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