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Education and timing of births: evidence from a natural experiment in Italy

  • Fort, Margherita

This paper assesses the causal effects of education on the timing of first births allowing for heterogeneity in the effects across individuals while controlling for self-selection of women into education. Identification relies on exogenous variation in schooling induced by a mandatory school reform rolled out nationwide in Italy in the early 1960s. Findings based on Census data (Italy, 1981) suggest that a large fraction of the women affected by the reform postpones the time of the first birth but catches up with this fertility delay before turning 26. There is some indication that the fertility return to schooling of these women is substantially different from the one of the average individual in the population.

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File URL: https://www.iser.essex.ac.uk/research/publications/working-papers/iser/2005-20.pdf
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Paper provided by Institute for Social and Economic Research in its series ISER Working Paper Series with number 2005-20.

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Date of creation: 01 Oct 2005
Date of revision:
Publication status: published
Handle: RePEc:ese:iserwp:2005-20
Contact details of provider: Postal: Publications Office, Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, Essex CO4 3SQ UK
Phone: 44-1206-872957
Fax: 44-1206-873151
Web page: https://www.iser.essex.ac.uk/
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Order Information: Postal: Publications Office, Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, Essex CO4 3SQ UK
Web: https://www.iser.essex.ac.uk/publications/ Email:


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  1. Alberto Abadie & Joshua Angrist & Guido Imbens, 2002. "Instrumental Variables Estimates of the Effect of Subsidized Training on the Quantiles of Trainee Earnings," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(1), pages 91-117, January.
  2. J.D. Angrist & Guido W. Imbens & D.B. Rubin, 1993. "Identification of Causal Effects Using Instrumental Variables," NBER Technical Working Papers 0136, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Joƫlle Sleebos, 2003. "Low Fertility Rates in OECD Countries: Facts and Policy Responses," OECD Labour Market and Social Policy Occasional Papers 15, OECD Publishing.
  4. UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, 2001. "A League Table of Teenage Births in Rich Nations," Innocenti Report Card inreca01/5, UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre.
  5. Siv Gustafsson & Seble Worku, 2005. "Assortative Mating by Education and Postponement of Couple Formation and First Birth in Britain and Sweden," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 3(1), pages 91-113, November.
  6. Joshua D. Angrist, 2004. "Treatment effect heterogeneity in theory and practice," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(494), pages C52-C83, 03.
  7. Leibenstein, Harvey, 1975. "The Economic Theory of Fertility Decline," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 89(1), pages 1-31, February.
  8. Becker, Gary S & Lewis, H Gregg, 1973. "On the Interaction between the Quantity and Quality of Children," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(2), pages S279-88, Part II, .
  9. McKinley L. Blackburn & David E. Bloom, 1990. "Fertility Timing, Wages, and Human Capital," NBER Working Papers 3422, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Jinyong Hahn & Petra Todd & Wilbert Van der Klaauw, 1999. "Evaluating the Effect of an Antidiscrimination Law Using a Regression-Discontinuity Design," NBER Working Papers 7131, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Bloemen, Hans & Kalwij, Adriaan S., 2001. "Female labor market transitions and the timing of births: a simultaneous analysis of the effects of schooling," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(5), pages 593-620, December.
  12. Robert J. Willis, 2000. "The Economics of Fatherhood," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 378-382, May.
  13. Massimiliano BRATTI, 2001. "Labour Force Participation and Marital Fertility of Italian Women: The Role of Education," Working Papers 154, Universita' Politecnica delle Marche (I), Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche e Sociali.
  14. Charles H. Mullin & Ping Wang, 2002. "The Timing of Childbearing among Heterogeneous Women in Dynamic General Equilibrium," NBER Working Papers 9231, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Cigno, Alessandro, 1983. "Human capital and the time-profile of human fertility," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 385-392.
  16. Imbens, Guido W & Rubin, Donald B, 1997. "Estimating Outcome Distributions for Compliers in Instrumental Variables Models," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(4), pages 555-74, October.
  17. Siv Gustafsson, 2001. "Optimal age at motherhood. Theoretical and empirical considerations on postponement of maternity in Europe," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 14(2), pages 225-247.
  18. Cigno, Alessandro & Ermisch, John, 1989. "A microeconomic analysis of the timing of births," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 737-760, April.
  19. Elizabeth Ty Wilde & Lily Batchelder & David T. Ellwood, 2010. "The Mommy Track Divides: The Impact of Childbearing on Wages of Women of Differing Skill Levels," NBER Working Papers 16582, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Joshua D. Angrist & William N. Evans, 1996. "Children and Their Parents' Labor Supply: Evidence from Exogenous Variation in Family Size," NBER Working Papers 5778, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. repec:ese:iserwp:2005-04 is not listed on IDEAS
  22. Vegard Skirbekk & Hans-Peter Kohler & Alexia Prskawetz, 2004. "Birth month, school graduation, and the timing of births and marriages," Demography, Springer, vol. 41(3), pages 547-568, August.
  23. Rosenzweig, Mark R & Schultz, T Paul, 1989. "Schooling, Information and Nonmarket Productivity: Contraceptive Use and Its Effectiveness," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 30(2), pages 457-77, May.
  24. Ward, Michael P & Butz, William P, 1980. "Completed Fertility and Its Timing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(5), pages 917-40, October.
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