Abstract

Declines in marriage and fertility rates in many developed countries have fostered research debate and increasing policy attention. Using longitudinal data from the German Socio-Economic Panel, we analyze the effects of exposure to globalization on fertility and marital behavior in Germany, which was a lowest-low fertility setting until recently. We find that exposure to greater import competition from Eastern Europe led to worse labor market outcomes and lower fertility rates. In contrast, workers in industries that benefited from increased exports had better employment prospects and higher fertility. These effects are driven by low-educated individuals, married men, and full-time workers and reflect changes in the likelihood of having any child (the extensive margin). We find evidence of some fertility postponement and significant effects on completed fertility, but we see little evidence of a significant impact on marital behavior. Our results inform the public debate on fertility rates in settings with lowest-low fertility, such as Germany, during the period under investigation.

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