Would empowering women initiate the demographic transition in least-developed countries?
We examine the pathways by which gender inequality affects fertility and hampers growth. We introduce several dimensions of gender inequality into a 2-sex OLG model with a non-unitary representation of household decision-making. We characterize a Malthusian corner regime which is characterized by strong gender inequality in education and high fertility. We find both in theory and in the data that reducing the social and institutional gender gap does not help to escape from this regime while reducing the wage gender gap lowers fertility only in countries which have already escaped from it. The key policies to ease out the countries in the Malthusian regime are to promote mother's longevity and to curb infant mortality. In the interior regime, parents consider the impact of their children education on the expected intra-household bargaining position in their future couple. Education could thus compensate against the institutional and social gender gap that still exists in developed countries.
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