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Health and the Revolution in Household Behavior 1880-1940: Fertility, Education and Married Female Labor Supply (previously entitled: Schooling, Fertility, and Married Female Labor Supply: What Role for Health?)

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Author Info

  • Matthias Cinyabuguma

    ()
    (UMBC)

  • Bill Lord

    ()
    (UMBC)

  • Christelle Viauroux

    ()
    (UMBC)

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    Abstract

    Between the latter nineteenth century and the 1930s there was a dramatic revolution in American families. Family size continued its long-term decline, the schooling of older children expanded dramatically and the proportion of married females' adulthood devoted to market-oriented activities increased. Over this same period there were significant reductions in mortality, especially among the young, and impressive reductions in morbidity. This paper considers all these trends jointly, modeling the changes in fertility, child schooling and lifetime married female labor supply as a consequence of exogenous changes in health. These interactions are then quantified using calibration techniques. The simulations suggest that reductions in child mortality alone cannot explain the transformation of the American family. Indeed, in our preferred calibration, reductions in child mortality lead to a modest decline in human capital and increase in fertility, with little effect on married female labor force involvement. In sharp contrast, reductions in morbidity are found to lower fertility and increase education. The time savings from lower fertility more than offset the increased time mothers invest in their childrens' quality, freeing some time for market work. However, lower fertility alone cannot account for the increase in market work of married women. In our framework, the majority of the increase is a consequence of a narrowing of the gender wage gap. More generally, viewing the implications of health improvements deepens our understanding of the American family transformation, complementing explanations based on skill biased technical change and improvements in household durable goods.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by UMBC Department of Economics in its series UMBC Economics Department Working Papers with number 09-108.

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    Length: 35 pages
    Date of creation: 11 Sep 2009
    Date of revision: 15 Apr 2010
    Handle: RePEc:umb:econwp:09108

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    Related research

    Keywords: Schooling; Fertility; Health; Human Capital Accumulation; Labor Supply.;

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