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Short and Long-Term Effects of Unemployment on Fertility

Author

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  • Janet Currie
  • Hannes Schwandt

Abstract

Scholars have been examining the relationship between fertility and unemployment for more than a century. Most studies find that fertility falls with unemployment in the short run, but it is not known whether these negative effects persist since women may simply postpone child bearing to better economics times. Using over 140 million U.S. birth records for the period 1975 to 2010, we analyze both the short and long-run effects of unemployment on fertility. We follow fixed cohorts of U.S. born women defined by their own state and year of birth, and relate their fertility to the unemployment rate experienced by each cohort at different ages. We focus on conceptions that result in a live birth. We find that women in their early 20s are most affected by high unemployment rates in the short-run and that the negative effects on fertility grow over time. A one percentage point increase in the unemployment rate experienced between the ages of 20 and 24 reduces the short-run fertility of women in this age range by 6 conceptions per 1,000 women. When we follow these women to age 40, we find that a one percentage point increase in the unemployment rate experienced at 20 to 24 leads to an overall loss of 14.2 conceptions. This long-run effect is driven largely by women who remain childless and thus do not have either first births or higher order births.

Suggested Citation

  • Janet Currie & Hannes Schwandt, 2015. "Short and Long-Term Effects of Unemployment on Fertility," CEP Discussion Papers dp1387, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp1387
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Delia Furtado, 2016. "Fertility Responses of High-Skilled Native Women to Immigrant Inflows," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 53(1), pages 27-53, February.
    2. repec:rjr:romjef:v::y:2018:i:1:p:140-156 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:dem:demres:v:38:y:2018:i:33 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. repec:spr:jopoec:v:30:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s00148-017-0640-5 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Sonia Bhalotra & Abhishek Chakravarty & Dilip Mookherjee & Francisco J. Pino, 2019. "Property Rights and Gender Bias: Evidence from Land Reform in West Bengal," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 11(2), pages 205-237, April.
    6. repec:dem:demres:v:36:y:2017:i:51 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. repec:ces:ifobei:79 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Schwandt, Hannes & Wachter, Till von, 2018. "Unlucky Cohorts: Estimating the Long-term Effects of Entering the Labor Market in a Recession in Large Cross-sectional Data Sets," IZA Discussion Papers 11926, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    9. Chiara Comolli & Fabrizio Bernardi, 2015. "The causal effect of the great recession on childlessness of white American women," IZA Journal of Labor Economics, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 4(1), pages 1-24, December.
    10. Johanna Catherine Maclean & Reginald Covington & Asia Sikora Kessler, 2016. "Labor Market Conditions At School-Leaving: Long-Run Effects On Marriage And Fertility," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 34(1), pages 63-88, January.
    11. Ayako Kondo, 2016. "The effects of recessions on family formation," IZA World of Labor, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA), pages 248-248, March.
    12. Blom, Erica & Cadena, Brian C. & Keys, Benjamin J., 2015. "Investment over the Business Cycle: Insights from College Major Choice," IZA Discussion Papers 9167, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Fertility; unemployment;

    JEL classification:

    • J6 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers
    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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