Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Economics / Economic Policy


Professor B.G. Spencer


Professor F.T. Denton


The determinants of fertility behavior vary considerably from country to country. An oft-cited motivation for childbearing in developing countries is the economic returns parents expect to receive from their children. The demand for children as security assets is important in areas where insecurity is rife, alternative assets are risky or absent, and the support provided by children lacks market substitutes. An overlapping generations model in which fertility, children's education and migration are jointly determined by rural agricultural households is formulated. The effects on family size of changes in education costs, urban wages, child altruism towards parents, and rural living conditions are derived from the model. Some.policy implications of the theoretical results are examined. The findings appear to support the notion that as long as a traditional family-based system of obligations is retained and urban-rural wage differentials remain large, the security motive will continue to be significant an explanation for the high level of fertility in traditional rural societies.

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