Skip to content

Israel: Financial Incentives & Fertility


This extensive study delves into the relationship between financial incentives and fertility decisions, drawing on a large panel data set from Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics. Covering the period from 1999 to 2005, it offers insights into how child subsidies impact fertility across different demographics.

The implications of this research extend beyond Israel’s borders. In a global context where developed countries grapple with falling birthrates and developing nations seek to balance growth and population, understanding the efficacy of financial incentives in shaping fertility decisions is crucial.

Key Components of the Study

  1. Data Set: The study is anchored in a comprehensive data set from Israel, comprising 1.2 million person-year observations. This data includes detailed fertility histories, income, education levels, religious affiliations, and more, offering a robust basis for analysis.
  2. Period of Study: Spanning seven years (1999-2005), the study explores a time of substantial changes in child subsidies in Israel, providing a unique opportunity to assess their impact.
  3. Focus: At the heart of the study is the exploration of how child subsidies affect fertility, not just in the aggregate population but also across different income levels and religious groups.


  1. Child Subsidy Impact:
    • Subsidy Decreases Lead to Lower Fertility: A notable finding is that reductions in child subsidies correspond with a decrease in fertility rates. This trend is more pronounced in households with lower incomes.
    • Variation Across Demographics: The effect of subsidies is notably stronger in certain religious groups, particularly ultra-Orthodox Jews and Arab Muslims. These groups show higher responsiveness to financial incentives regarding fertility decisions.
  2. Income and Fertility:
    • The study reveals a relatively minor influence of income changes on fertility decisions. This trend varies across income brackets, with low-income households showing a negative effect (decreased fertility with increased income) and higher-income households showing a positive effect.
  3. Elasticity of Fertility to Financial Incentives:
    • Price Elasticity: The study calculates the price elasticity of fertility, revealing a general inelasticity concerning changes in the cost of children.
    • Benefit Elasticity: Similarly, the benefit elasticity of fertility is found to be significant, implying that reductions in child subsidies lead to a noticeable decrease in fertility.
  4. 2003 Reform Impact:
    • The study specifically examines the 2003 reform in Israel, which significantly reduced child subsidies. It estimates that had this reform not been implemented, there would have been an 11.8% increase in births in 2004 among married women with at least two children.
  5. Age-Specific Effects:
    • The study also explores the impact of financial incentives across different age groups, finding that the effect of child subsidies on fertility decisions decreases with the woman’s age.

Conclusions and Policy Implications

  • Effectiveness of Financial Incentives: The study conclusively shows that changes in child subsidies can significantly influence fertility rates in the short term. This is particularly true for lower-income households and certain religious groups.
  • Limited Impact of Income-Based Measures: In contrast, the impact of income changes on fertility is found to be relatively minor. This suggests that income-based policies may be less effective in influencing fertility decisions.
  • Cultural and Demographic Sensitivity: The variation in the impact of subsidies across different demographic groups underscores the need for culturally and demographically sensitive policy approaches.

Broader Implications This research contributes to the broader understanding of how economic policies can influence demographic trends. Its findings are particularly relevant for policymakers looking to address issues related to population growth and family planning in varied socioeconomic contexts.

Future Directions The study opens avenues for further research, particularly in exploring the long-term effects of financial incentives on fertility and understanding the interplay of cultural, religious, and economic factors in shaping fertility decisions.