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Stecklov, Guy (1999). Evaluating the Economic Returns to Childbearing in Côte d'Ivoire. Population Studies, 53(1), 1-17.


While it has been often suggested, most notably by Caldwell, that high fertility in developing countries is motivated by the positive economic returns that children contribute to their parents, empirical evidence to support the hypothesis is limited. This paper describes a method of measuring the economic returns from the average child over the entire parental life-cycle. The method is then applied to detailed household economic data from Côte d'Ivoire. The results indicate that parents give more to their children than they receive and that the economic returns from children are negative. Overall, we estimate that the average child provides an annual rate of return of roughly –8 per cent. Our results shed light on how the returns from childbearing vary according to the age of the parents at time of birth. The results also offer a potential economic explanation of why older couples are often first to adopt modern contraception.


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Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Population Studies


Stecklov, Guy