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Urban fertility responses to local government programs: evidence from the 1923-1932 U.S

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Author Info

  • Jonathan F. Fox

    (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany)

  • Mikko Myrskyl√§

    (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany)

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    Abstract

    During the 1920s and early 1930s, fertility in American municipalities declined overall and with large variation between areas and across time. Using data for 1923-1932 on fertility and public spending for over 50 large cities, we show that the local government programs of health education and outdoor care of poor had the unintended effect of reducing fertility. Fixed effects regressions indicate a $4 increase in per capita public health education spending or a $37 increase in poor relief reduced the TFR by 0.1. This suggests that cities spending in the 75th percentile on health education experienced a 1.95% faster fertility decline than cities spending in the 25th percentile. For poor relief the difference was 1.45%. The mechanisms may be related to increased breastfeeding, social insurance incentives or the stressing of a two child home. The results help explain differing fertility trends, and highlight how policy may unintentionally reduce fertility.

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    File URL: http://www.demogr.mpg.de/papers/working/wp-2011-018.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany in its series MPIDR Working Papers with number WP-2011-018.

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    Length: 38 pages
    Date of creation: Oct 2011
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:dem:wpaper:wp-2011-018

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    Web page: http://www.demogr.mpg.de/

    Related research

    Keywords: USA; fertility; fertility decline; public health; social welfare;

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    1. Matthias Doepke, 2001. "Accounting for Fertility Decline During the Transition to Growth," UCLA Economics Working Papers 804, UCLA Department of Economics.
    2. Zvi Eckstein & Pedro Mira & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 1999. "A Quantitative Analysis of Swedish Fertility Dynamics: 1751-1990," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 2(1), pages 137-165, January.
    3. Price V. Fishback & Michael R. Haines & Shawn Kantor, 2007. "Births, Deaths, and New Deal Relief during the Great Depression," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(1), pages 1-14, February.
    4. Michael Haines & Avery Guest, 2008. "Fertility in New York state in the pre-civil war era," Demography, Springer, vol. 45(2), pages 345-361, May.
    5. Larry E. Jones & Michele Tertilt, 2006. "An Economic History of Fertility in the U.S.: 1826-1960," NBER Working Papers 12796, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:
    1. Shcherbakova, Nadezda, 2013. "Urbanization as a way of saving our planet from overpopulation," MPRA Paper 52299, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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