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

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

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.

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Article provided by University of Wisconsin Press in its journal Journal of Human Resources.

Volume (Year): 34 (1999)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 449-474

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Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:34:y:1999:i:3:p:449-474
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://jhr.uwpress.org/

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  1. 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 1141-56, December.
  2. Juster, F. Thomas & Stafford, Frank P., 1990. "The Allocation of Time: Empirical Findings, Behavioural Models, and Problems of Measurement," Working Paper Series 258, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 765-99, July.
  5. Moffitt, Robert, 1984. "Profiles of Fertility, Labour Supply and Wages of Married Women: A Complete Life-Cycle Model," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(2), pages 263-78, April.
  6. V. Joseph Hotz & Robert A. Miller, . "An Empirical Analysis of Life Cycle Fertility and Female Labor Supply," University of Chicago - Population Research Center 86-15, Chicago - Population Research Center.
  7. 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.
  8. Heckman, James J, 1974. "Shadow Prices, Market Wages, and Labor Supply," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 42(4), pages 679-94, 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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