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Education and Fertility: Evidence from a Natural Experiment

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  • Monstad, Karin
  • Propper, Carol
  • Salvanes, Kjell G

Abstract

In many developed countries a decline in fertility has occurred. This development has been attributed to greater education of women. However, establishing a causal link is difficult as both fertility and education have changed secularly. The contribution of this paper is to study the connection between fertility and education over a woman’s fertile period focusing on whether the relationship is causal. We study fertility in Norway and use an educational reform as an instrument to correct for selection into education. Our results indicate that increasing education leads to postponement of first births away from teenage motherhood towards having the first birth in their twenties and, for a smaller group, up to the age of 35-40. We do not find, however, evidence that total fertility falls as a result of greater education.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 6816.

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Date of creation: May 2008
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6816

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Keywords: causal effect; education; female fertility;

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  1. Justin McCrary & Heather Royer, 2011. "The Effect of Female Education on Fertility and Infant Health: Evidence from School Entry Policies Using Exact Date of Birth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(1), pages 158-95, February.
  2. Willis, Robert J, 1973. "A New Approach to the Economic Theory of Fertility Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(2), pages S14-64, Part II, .
  3. SandraE. Black & PaulJ. Devereux & KjellG. Salvanes, 2008. "Staying in the Classroom and out of the maternity ward? The effect of compulsory schooling laws on teenage births," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 118(530), pages 1025-1054, 07.
  4. Costas Meghir & Mårten Palme, 2003. "Ability, parental background and educational policy: empirical evidence from a social experiment," IFS Working Papers W03/05, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  5. Fort, Margherita, 2005. "Education and timing of births: evidence from a natural experiment in Italy," ISER Working Paper Series 2005-20, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
  6. Joshua Angrist & Alan Krueger, 1990. "Does Compulsory School Attendance Affect Schooling and Earnings?," Working Papers 653, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  7. Aakvik, Arild & Salvanes, Kjell G. & Vaage, Kjell, 2003. "Measuring Heterogeneity in the Returns to Education in Norway Using Educational Reforms," IZA Discussion Papers 815, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Dave Turner & Claude Giorno & Alain de Serres & Ann Vourc'h & Pete Richardson, 1998. "The Macroeconomic Implications of Ageing in a Global Context," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 193, OECD Publishing.
  9. Card, David, 1999. "The causal effect of education on earnings," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 30, pages 1801-1863 Elsevier.
  10. Marit Rønsen, 2004. "Fertility and Public Policies - Evidence from Norway and Finland," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 10(6), pages 143-170, May.
  11. Siv Gustafsson, 2001. "Optimal age at motherhood. Theoretical and empirical considerations on postponement of maternity in Europe," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 14(2), pages 225-247.
  12. Schultz, T. Paul, 1993. "Demand for children in low income countries," Handbook of Population and Family Economics, in: M. R. Rosenzweig & Stark, O. (ed.), Handbook of Population and Family Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 8, pages 349-430 Elsevier.
  13. Vegard Skirbekk & Hans-Peter Kohler & Alexia Prskawetz, 2004. "Birth month, school graduation, and the timing of births and marriages," Demography, Springer, vol. 41(3), pages 547-568, August.
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