Sunday, February 13, 2022

The Puzzle of Falling US Birth Rates since the Great Recession

The Puzzle of Falling US Birth Rates since the Great Recession. Melissa S. Kearney, Phillip B. Levine, and Luke Pardue. Journal of Economic Perspectives, Volume 36, Number 1, Winter 2022, Pages 151–176.

Abstract: Between 1980 and 2007, US birth rates generally fluctuated within a narrow range of roughly 65 to 70 births per 1,000 women between ages 15 and 44. Since then, US birth rates have plummeted, reaching 55.8 per 1,000 women in 2020—about a 20 percent decline over 13 years. Figure 1 plots the trend in the US birth rates. The decline began at the onset of the Great Recession and continued during the ensuing recovery, with no signs of reversing. This paper considers possible suspects behind the falling birth rates. We begin with a detailed look at birth rates by demographic groups defined by age, education, race and ethnicity, marital status, and birth parity. A detailed examination by group might offer some preliminary clues as to what types of factors might be responsible for the aggregate trend. While the decline is concentrated among women in the under-30 age group, the decline is generally widespread across demographic subgroups, which gives reason to suspect that the dominant explanation for the aggregate decline is likely to be multifaceted or society-wide. We see no indication in the data that there is likely to be a reversal of these trends in the near future.

That consumers derive greater happiness from experiences than from material possessions lets one significant fact go unnoticed: Some of the most satisfying experiences combine elements of both domains; there is no inherent tradeoff

What Makes People Happy? Decoupling the Experiential-Material Continuum. Evan Weingarten et al. Journal of Consumer Psychology, February 2022.

Abstract: Extant literature suggests that consumers derive more happiness from experiences (e.g., vacations) than from material possessions (e.g., furniture). However, this literature typically pits material against experiential consumption, treating them as a single bipolar construct of their relative dominance: more material or more experiential. This focus on relative dominance leaves unanswered questions regarding how different levels of material and experiential qualities each contribute to happiness. Four preregistered studies (N = 3,288), using hundreds of product categories, measured levels of material and experiential qualities using two unipolar items. These studies investigate recalled, evoked, and anticipated happiness. Results show a more nuanced view of the experiential advantage that is critical for future research and consumer theory: material and experiential qualities both have positive relationships with happiness. Further, there is no inherent tradeoff between experiential and material qualities: consumers can enjoy consumption that is high on both (e.g., swimming pools and home improvements).