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The Effect of a First Child on Female Labor Supply: Evidence from Women Seeking Fertility Services

  • Julian P. Cristia

Estimating the causal effect of a first child on female labor supply is complicated by the endogeneity of fertility. This paper addresses this problem by focusing on a sample of women from the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) who sought help to become pregnant. After a certain period, only some of these women gave birth. Results using this strategy show that having a first child younger than one year old reduces female employment by 26 percentage points. These estimates are close to OLS estimates from census data and to those from OLS and fixed-effects models on NSFG data.

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

Volume (Year): 43 (2008)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 487-510

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Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:43:y:2008:i:3:p:487-510
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  1. Goldin, Claudia, 1992. "Understanding the Gender Gap: An Economic History of American Women," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195072709.
  2. James J. Heckman & Jeffrey A. Smith, 1995. "Assessing the Case for Social Experiments," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 85-110, Spring.
  3. Francine D. Blau & Adam J. Grossberg, 1990. "Maternal Labor Supply and Children's Cognitive Development," NBER Working Papers 3536, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. 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.
  5. David Shapiro & Frank L. Mott, 1994. "Long-Term Employment and Earnings of Women in Relation to Employment Behavior Surrounding the First Birth," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 29(2), pages 248-275.
  6. Rosenzweig, Mark R & Wolpin, Kenneth I, 1980. "Life-Cycle Labor Supply and Fertility: Causal Inferences from Household Models," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(2), pages 328-48, April.
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