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Urban fertility responses to local government programs: evidence from the 1923-1932 U.S

Author

Listed:
  • Jonathan F. Fox

    (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany)

  • Mikko Myrskylä

    (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany)

Abstract

During the 1920s and early 1930s, fertility in American municipalities declined overall and with large variation between areas and across time. Using data for 1923-1932 on fertility and public spending for over 50 large cities, we show that the local government programs of health education and outdoor care of poor had the unintended effect of reducing fertility. Fixed effects regressions indicate a $4 increase in per capita public health education spending or a $37 increase in poor relief reduced the TFR by 0.1. This suggests that cities spending in the 75th percentile on health education experienced a 1.95% faster fertility decline than cities spending in the 25th percentile. For poor relief the difference was 1.45%. The mechanisms may be related to increased breastfeeding, social insurance incentives or the stressing of a two child home. The results help explain differing fertility trends, and highlight how policy may unintentionally reduce fertility.

Suggested Citation

  • Jonathan F. Fox & Mikko Myrskylä, 2011. "Urban fertility responses to local government programs: evidence from the 1923-1932 U.S," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2011-018, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:dem:wpaper:wp-2011-018
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    File URL: http://www.demogr.mpg.de/papers/working/wp-2011-018.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Larry E. Jones & Michele Tertilt, 2006. "An Economic History of Fertility in the U.S.: 1826-1960," NBER Working Papers 12796, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Michael Haines & Avery Guest, 2008. "Fertility in New York state in the pre-civil war era," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 45(2), pages 345-361, May.
    3. Matthias Doepke, 2004. "Accounting for Fertility Decline During the Transition to Growth," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 347-383, September.
    4. Zvi Eckstein & Pedro Mira & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 1999. "A Quantitative Analysis of Swedish Fertility Dynamics: 1751-1990," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 2(1), pages 137-165, January.
    5. Price V. Fishback & Michael R. Haines & Shawn Kantor, 2007. "Births, Deaths, and New Deal Relief during the Great Depression," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, pages 1-14.
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    Cited by:

    1. Shcherbakova, Nadezda, 2013. "Urbanization as a way of saving our planet from overpopulation," MPRA Paper 52299, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    USA; fertility; fertility decline; public health; social welfare;

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • Z0 - Other Special Topics - - General

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