economic inequality and reproductive timing

Published: 10-04-2019| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/x3k43nvf3r.1
Lei Cheng


This research explored that the role of economic inequality as a characteristic of the socioecological environment in individuals’ reproductive behavior. Five studies were conducted to test the hypothesis that higher economic inequality leads people to delay reproduction. Across nations (Study 1) and the states of the U.S. (Study 2), we found that the average reproductive age is higher in nations and states with greater economic inequality. In Study 3, individuals who perceived higher levels of inequality in a given society planned to have their children later. Finally, Study 4 revealed that the priming of high inequality led to a greater preference for delaying reproduction, which represented a desire to pursue one’s development rather than to build a family (Study 4a); furthermore, higher motivation for status improvement could be one interpretation of this effect (Study 4b). These results expand the literature regarding the effect of economic inequality on human behavior.