Demographic Transitions and Children's Resources: Bonus or Divergence?

Parfait Eloundou-Enyegue, Cornell University
C. Shannon Stokes, Pennsylvania State University

How do fertility transitions affect children’s resources? Existing perspectives provide two seemingly different answers: “Dilution” arguments focusing on family size predict a resource bonus, while “divergence” arguments focusing on family structure predict increased inequality. We argue that these two perspectives are complementary and reconcilable within an integrated framework. The proposed integration shows how changes in family size and structure jointly shape children’s resource levels and inequality. Failure to integrate these two perspectives can bias understanding of the magnitude or direction of the influences of fertility transitions. In particular, the resource bonus accruing to children depends not only on the quantum of fertility decline, but also on its locus and on accompanying changes in family structure. We illustrate with empirical data from Cameroon.

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Presented in Session 10: Family Size and Human Capital