Did the association between fertility and female employment within OECD countries really change its sign?
Recent literature finds that in OECD countries the cross-country correlation between the total fertility rate and the female labor force participation rate, which until the beginning of the 1980s had a negative value, has since acquired a positive value. This result is (explicitly or implicitly) often interpreted as evidence for a changing sign in the time-series association between fertility and female employment within OECD countries. This paper shows that the time-series association between fertility and female employment does not demonstrate a change in sign. Instead, the reversal in the sign of the cross-country correlation is most likely due to a combination of two elements: First, the presence of unmeasured country-specific factors and, second, country-heterogeneity in the magnitude of the negative time-series association between fertility and female employment. However, the paper does find evidence for a reduction in the negative time-series association between fertility and female employment after about 1985.
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