Volume 30 - Article 16 | Pages 465–492
How does education change the relationship between fertility and age-dependency under environmental constraints? A long-term simulation exercise
|Date received:||04 Sep 2012|
|Date published:||20 Feb 2014|
|Keywords:||aging, dependency, human capital, low fertility, optimal fertility|
Background: When asked what a desirable fertility level for populations might be, most politicians, journalists, and even social scientists would say it is around two children per woman, a level that has been labelled by demographers "replacement-level fertility." The reasons given for considering this level of fertility as something to aim at usually include maintaining the size of the labour force and stabilizing the old-age-dependency ratio.
Objective: In this paper, we scrutinize this wide-spread view by introducing education in addition to age and sex as a further relevant source of observable population heterogeneity. We consider several criteria for assessing the long-term implications of alternative fertility levels and present numerical simulations with a view on minimizing the education-weighted total dependency ratio and complement this with the goal of reducing the amount of greenhouse gas emission in the context of climate change.
Methods: We perform thousands of alternative simulations for different fertility levels (assumed to be constant over time) starting from empirically given population structures and derive the rate of fertility which yields the lowest level of our education-weighted dependency ratio. We study the sensitivity of our results to different parameter values and choose to focus on the actual populations of Europe and China over the course of the 21st century.
Results: The results show that when education is assumed to present a cost at young age and results in higher productivity during adult age, then the fertility rate that on the long run keeps dependency at a minimum turns out to lie well below replacement fertility both in Europe and in China under a set of plausible assumptions. The optimal fertility level falls even lower when climate change is factored in as well.
Conclusions: We conclude that there is nothing magical or particularly desirable about replacement level fertility.
Erich Striessnig - Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital (IIASA, OeAW, University of Vienna), Austria
Wolfgang Lutz - Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital (IIASA, OeAW, University of Vienna), Austria
Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research
Education stalls and subsequent stalls in African fertility: A descriptive overview
Volume 33 - Article 47
Very long range global population scenarios to 2300 and the implications of sustained low fertility
Volume 28 - Article 39
Projection of populations by level of educational attainment, age, and sex for 120 countries for 2005-2050
Volume 22 - Article 15
Most recent similar articles in Demographic Research
Ageing dynamics of a human-capital-specific population: A demographic perspective
Volume 31 - Article 44 | Keywords: aging, human capital
World population aging as a function of period demographic conditions
Volume 48 - Article 13 | Keywords: aging
Migrating to a new country in late life: A review of the literature on international retirement migration
Volume 48 - Article 9 | Keywords: aging
Heterogeneity among the never married in a low-fertility context
Volume 47 - Article 24 | Keywords: low fertility
The association between childlessness and voting turnout in 38 countries
Volume 47 - Article 14 | Keywords: low fertility
Download to Citation Manager