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The toll of fertility on mothers’ wellbeing

  • Cáceres-Delpiano, Julio
  • Simonsen, Marianne

In this paper we study the impact of fertility on the overall wellbeing of mothers First, using US Census data for the year 1980, we study the impact of number of children on family arrangements, welfare participation and poverty status. Second, using the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) for the period 1982-2003, we study the impact on a series of health risk factors. The findings reveal, first, that a raise in family size increases the likelihood of marital breakdown measured by the likelihood of divorce or the likelihood of the mother not living with the children’s father. Second, we find evidence that mothers facing an increase in family size are not only more likely to live with other family members such as grandparents, aunts and uncles, they are also more likely to receive help from welfare programs. Third, consistent with an increase in welfare participation, families (mothers) are more likely to fall below the poverty line, and they face a reduction in total family income. The results using NHIS confirm a negative impact of fertility on marriage stability and an increase in welfare participation measured by an increase in the likelihood of using Medicaid and for some samples a reduction in the take-up of private health insurance. Finally, we find evidence that a shock in fertility increases the likelihood for mothers to suffer from high blood pressure during the last 12 months and also increases the propensity to smoke and risk of being obese

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Paper provided by Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Departamento de Economía in its series UC3M Working papers. Economics with number we100603.

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Date of creation: Jan 2010
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Handle: RePEc:cte:werepe:we100603
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  16. Rosenzweig, Mark R & Wolpin, Kenneth I, 1980. "Testing the Quantity-Quality Fertility Model: The Use of Twins as a Natural Experiment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(1), pages 227-40, January.
  17. James Heckman, 1997. "Instrumental Variables: A Study of Implicit Behavioral Assumptions Used in Making Program Evaluations," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(3), pages 441-462.
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