This paper uses a non-standard value assumption – uncertainty reduction – to explain parenthood. We begin by reviewing the inadequacies of normative and standard rational choice explanations of shifts in fertility behavior. Then we propose a theory of the value of children based on the uncertainty-reduction assumption. Next we generate a range of hypotheses that follow both from this assumption and from a subsidiary assumption of marital solidarity enhancement. Finally, we explore the extent to which implications based on these new ideas are supported by the relevant empirical literature.
Debra Friedman, Michael Hechter and Satoshi Kanazawa
Debra Friedman, Michael Hechter and Derek Kreager
As innovations in medical technology extend average longevity, grandparents become increasingly present during the lives of their grandchildren. We propose a theory that seeks to explain differential investment in grandchildren. The theory relies on a fundamental assumption of uncertainty reduction to explain why grandparents in post-industrial societies might find it rational to invest in at least one of their grandchildren. We advance numerous illustrative hypotheses about end of life uncertainty, as well as proportional and differential investments in grandchildren, and discuss the relevance of existing empirical literature.