Child mortality and fertility decline: Does the Barro-Becker model fit the facts?

Matthias Doepke*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

154 Scopus citations


I compare the predictions of three variants of the altruistic parent model of Barro and Becker for the relationship between child mortality and fertility. In the baseline model fertility choice is continuous, and there is no uncertainty over the number of surviving children. The baseline model is contrasted to an extension with discrete fertility choice and stochastic mortality and a setup with sequential fertility choice. The quantitative predictions of the models are remarkably similar. While in each model the total fertility rate falls as child mortality declines, the number of surviving children increases. The results suggest that factors other than declining infant and child mortality are responsible for the large decline in net reproduction rates observed in industrialized countries over the last century.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)337-366
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Population Economics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2005


  • Child mortality
  • Fertility decline
  • Sequential fertility choice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Economics and Econometrics


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