Building for Babies: Impacts of childcare expansion on fertility rates and marriage

Author Name UNAYAMA Takashi (Faculty Fellow, RIETI)
Creation Date/NO. September 2023 23-J-030
Research Project Heterogeneity across Agents and Sustainability of the Japanese Economy
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The purpose of this study is to evaluate the impact of the development of daycare centers on fertility. Since the 2000s, daycare centers have been rapidly developed as a measure to cope with the declining birthrate. The capacity of daycare centers, which remained at around 2 million children until the early 2000s, expanded to about 3 million by 2020. The increased availability of daycare centers will make it easier for women to continue working after childbirth, and more women will choose to marry and have children. However, the effects of this rapid development of daycare centers in recent years have yet to be analyzed. This is because the decision to give birth is a life-course choice that is made over the course of a woman's lifetime, and it is not possible to observe whether a change in behavior has occurred until after a woman has completed her lifetime. This paper analyzed the decision to "marry" as a proxy variable for life course choices related to birth and quantified the effect of daycare center development. Using census data by prefecture and year of birth, the results indicate that the development of daycare centers since 2005 has had the effect of lowering the lifetime unmarried rate by approximately 5.5 percentage points and raising the total fertility rate by 0.1.