Economics serving society

Childbearing Age, Family Allowances, and Social Security

Pierre Pestieau, Grégory Ponthière

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The forms and factors in the increase in the average age at which women in France and other OECD countries give birth to their first child are largely known: improved access to higher education, higher salaries, and reformed family and tax policies. But the necessary development in public policy in the face of this phenomenon remains under-investigated. Pierre Pestieau and Grégory Ponthière propose a model of the fertility life-cycle that allows the study of the articulation between state child policies and the incomes and careers of couples, as well as the timing of births. Three periods are distinguished in order to simplify the approach: during the first two periods, the individuals work and receive income (growing or not) and are in a situation to have children, and in the third and final period, they retire.
The authors arrive at a number of conclusions. Women whose careers and salary growth follow a low curve tend to have their first child earlier than the others. Therefore, “child” allowances and bonuses that differ depending on the age of the parents would, in the absence of lump-sum transfers, contribute to social redistribution – because the parents with the highest incomes tend to have their children later. Moreover, in the French system of pay-as-you-go retirement pensions, the timing of births significantly affects the ratio of contributors to beneficiaries of the system (with the number of children per woman unchanged). Thus, the introduction of family allowances differentiated according to the age of parents could oblige the latter to confront the social implications of their decisions about the timing of births.
* Cycle de vie à l’aune de la natalité
Original title of the article: Childbearing Age, Family Allowances, and Social Security
Published in : Southern Economic Journal, October 2013, Vol. 80, Issue 2, p 385-413.
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