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To HECS with Fertility

The Australian Population Association has just released a double bumper edition of the Journal of Population Research. A paper by Peng Yu, Rebecca Kippen and Bruce Chapman investigates whether there is a link between HECS debts incurred by Australian University students and subsequent fertility expectations. HECS was introduced in 1989 and requires repayment of part of degree cost through an income progressive post graduation tax collection. The authors studied a number of other potential explanations of fertility.

There were four main conclusions as follows:

* There is no significant effect of having had a HECS debt, or the current level of unpaid HECS debt, on menís and womenís expected lifetime fertility.

* Age is significantly positively associated with expected lifetime fertility - i.e younger people (as at 2001) have or expect to have, fewer children over their lifetime. For men, the results show 0.18 fewer per 10 years younger and for women, 0.10 fewer. In other words fertility is changing over time.

* Education is strongly negatively associated with womenís expected lifetime fertility. Women holding a university degree expect to have around 0.24 fewer children than those who have not completed high school.

* Tastes, attitudes and values are very importantly associated with expected lifetime fertility. Two women with opposite levels of measures in these areas will have a total difference of 1.37 expected children over their lifetimes.

The authors note that a single equation model is unlikely to capture accurately the interrelationships between the many factors determining a personís expected number of children. You can find a copy of the paper at http://www.jpr.org.au/upload/JPR24-1Yu.pdf

Posted Saturday, 6 October 2007

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