DP13412 Strategic Fertility, Education Choices, and Conflicts in Deeply Divided Societies

Author(s): Emeline Bezin, Bastien Chabé-Ferret, David de la Croix
Publication Date: December 2018
Date Revised: December 2018
Keyword(s): conflict, Fertility, Human Capital, Indonesia, minorities, Nash equilibrium, population engineering, quality-quantity trade-off
JEL(s): D74, J13, J15
Programme Areas: Development Economics, Macroeconomics and Growth
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=13412

Fertility becomes a strategic choice when having a larger population helps to gain power. Minority groups might find it optimal to promote high fertility among their members - this is known as the "weapon of the womb" argument. If, in addition, parents have to invest resources to educate their children, a higher fertility for strategic motives might reduce their investment. Indonesian census data dispel this view, as minority religious groups do not invest less in education. If anything, they invest more in education, as well as in their number of children. This finding is consistent with human capital being an input to appropriation. Solving for the Nash equilibrium of a game between two groups with two strategic variables, we derive the condition under which the minority group displays a higher investment in both the quantity and quality of children. The material cost of conflict involved through the weapon of the womb mechanism is mitigated when human capital enters the contest function.