Essays in Applied Microeconomics

Ershang Liang, Fordham University


Low fertility rates and population aging are established trends in high-income countries. In the United Kingdom (UK), the fertility rate remains below the replacement level. Low fertility rates impact economies, for instance, through social security systems. The increase in unemployment during recessions decreases the opportunity costs of having a child. At the same time, it also raises income uncertainty, which may curb fertility rates. Recent studies suggest that experiencing the Great Recession reduces women’s childlessness in Italy while it increases white women’s childlessness in the United States. This paper examines if experiencing the Great Recession affects men’s and women’s first birth decisions in a rapidly aging country, the UK. Using pseudo-cohorts and later panel cohorts of women from the British Household Panel Survey and the United Kingdom Household Longitudinal Study, this study assesses the causal effect of experiencing the Great Recession on the probability of childlessness of the 26- to 45-year-olds with a Difference-in-Differences approach. Women in their mid-30s experiencing the Great Recession significantly delay their first births, while women in their early-40s accelerate their first births after the Great Recession, which suggests that experiencing the Great Recession significantly reduces women’s permanent childlessness in the UK. Moreover, the Great Recession impacts women in England and men in Scotland/Wales/Northern Ireland. These results are robust within a Triple Differenced (DDD) model in both pseudo cohorts and panel cohorts. Further results suggest that the Great Recession decreases women’s permanent childlessness in the UK through changes in job loss and marriage timing. This paper contributes to the debate on whether and how economic crises affect fertility by assessing the Great Recession’s impacts on men’s and women’s childlessness in the UK.

Subject Area

Economics|European Studies|Public health|Gerontology

Recommended Citation

Liang, Ershang, "Essays in Applied Microeconomics" (2023). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI30000959.