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Maternal Health and Fertility: An International Perspective

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  • Stefania Albanesi

    ()
    (Federal Reserve Bank of New York and CEPR)

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    Abstract

    This paper examines the impact of the decline in maternal mortality on fertility and women's human capital. Fertility theory suggests that a permanent decline in maternal mortality initially increases fertility and generates a permanent rise in women's human capital, relative to men. The resulting rise in the opportunity cost of children leads to a subsequent decline in desired fertility, generating a boom-bust response. We assess these predictions using newly digitized data on maternal mortality for 25 advanced and emerging economies for the time period 1900-2000. The empirical estimates suggest that the decline in maternal mortality contributed significantly to the baby booms and subsequent baby busts experienced by these economies in the twentieth century, and that the female-male differential in education attainment grew more in those countries that experience a sizable maternal mortality decline.

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    File URL: http://humcap.uchicago.edu/RePEc/hka/wpaper/Albanesi_2012_maternal-health-fertility.pdf
    File Function: First version, July, 2012
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group in its series Working Papers with number 2013-005.

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    Date of creation: May 2013
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    Handle: RePEc:hka:wpaper:2013-005

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    Keywords: Maternal mortality decline; fertility choice; baby boom; women's; human capital;

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    1. Rodrigo R. Soares, 2004. "Mortality Reductions, Educational Attainment, and Fertility Choice," Econometric Society 2004 North American Winter Meetings 9, Econometric Society.
    2. Gary S. Becker & Robert J. Barro, . "A Reformulation of the Economic Theory of Fertility," University of Chicago - Population Research Center 85-11, Chicago - Population Research Center.
    3. Matthias Doepke & Moshe Hazan & Yishay Maoz, 2007. "The Baby Boom and World War II: A Macroeconomic Analysis," NBER Working Papers 13707, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Larry E. Jones & Alice Schoonbroodt, 2010. "Complements Versus Substitutes And Trends In Fertility Choice In Dynastic Models," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 51(3), pages 671-699, 08.
    5. Seema Jayachandran & Adriana Lleras-Muney, 2009. "Life Expectancy and Human Capital Investments: Evidence from Maternal Mortality Declines-super-," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 124(1), pages 349-397, February.
    6. Seema Jayachandran & Adriana Lleras-Muney & Kimberly V. Smith, 2009. "Modern Medicine and the 20th Century Decline in Mortality: Evidence on the Impact of Sulfa Drugs," NBER Working Papers 15089, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Samuel H. Preston & Michael R. Haines, 1991. "Fatal Years: Child Mortality in Late Nineteenth-Century America," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number pres91-1, July.
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