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The Effects of Childbearing on Married Women's Labor Supply and Earnings: Using Twin Births as a Natural Experiment

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  • Joyce P. Jacobsen
  • James Wishart Pearce III
  • Joshua L. Rosenbloom

Abstract

We use exogenous variations in fertility due to twin births to measure the impact of an unplanned child on married women's labor supply and earnings. Although the overall effects of an unplanned birth on labor supply are small, we find significant effects in the years immediately following the unplanned birth, especially in 1970. We estimate that declining fertility explains between 6 and 13 percent of the increase in married women's labor supply between 1970 and 1980. Twin births are also associated with a substantial short-run loss in earnings. This effect persists longer than the labor supply effects, though it does eventually disappear.

Suggested Citation

  • Joyce P. Jacobsen & James Wishart Pearce III & Joshua L. Rosenbloom, 1999. "The Effects of Childbearing on Married Women's Labor Supply and Earnings: Using Twin Births as a Natural Experiment," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 34(3), pages 449-474.
  • Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:34:y:1999:i:3:p:449-474
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Juster, F Thomas & Stafford, Frank P, 1991. "The Allocation of Time: Empirical Findings, Behavioral Models, and Problems of Measurement," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 29(2), pages 471-522, June.
    2. Heckman, James J, 1974. "Shadow Prices, Market Wages, and Labor Supply," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 42(4), pages 679-694, July.
    3. Bronars, Stephen G & Grogger, Jeff, 1994. "The Economic Consequences of Unwed Motherhood: Using Twin Births as a Natural Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1141-1156, December.
    4. Jacob Mincer, 1962. "Labor Force Participation of Married Women: A Study of Labor Supply," NBER Chapters,in: Aspects of Labor Economics, pages 63-105 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Robert Moffitt, 1984. "Profiles of Fertility, Labour Supply and Wages of Married Women: A Complete Life-Cycle Model," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(2), pages 263-278.
    6. Evelyn L. Lehrer, 1992. "The Impact of Children on Married Women's Labor Supply: Black-White Differentials Revisited," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 27(3), pages 422-444.
    7. Hotz, V Joseph & Miller, Robert A, 1988. "An Empirical Analysis of Life Cycle Fertility and Female Labor Supply," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(1), pages 91-118, January.
    8. Mroz, Thomas A, 1987. "The Sensitivity of an Empirical Model of Married Women's Hours of Work to Economic and Statistical Assumptions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(4), pages 765-799, July.
    9. Fuchs, Victor R, 1989. "Women's Quest for Economic Equality," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 25-41, Winter.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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