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Education and Fertility: Evidence from a Natural Experiment

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In many developed countries a decline in fertility has occurred. This development has been attributed to greater education of women. However, establishing a causal link is difficult as both fertility and education have changed secularly. The contribution of this paper is to study the connection between fertility and education over a woman’s fertile period focusing on whether the relationship is causal. We study fertility in Norway and use an educational reform as an instrument to correct for selection into education. Our results indicate that increasing education leads to postponement of first births away from teenage motherhood towards having the first birth in their twenties and, for a smaller group, up to the age of 35-40. We do not find, however, evidence that total fertility falls as a result of greater education.

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  • Monstad, Karin & Propper, Carol & Salvanes, Kjell Gunnar, 2008. "Education and Fertility: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," Working Papers in Economics 05/08, University of Bergen, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:bergec:2008_005
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    1. Aakvik, Arild & Salvanes, Kjell G. & Vaage, Kjell, 2003. "Measuring Heterogeneity in the Returns to Education in Norway Using Educational Reforms," IZA Discussion Papers 815, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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    4. Marit Rønsen, 2004. "Fertility and Public Policies - Evidence from Norway and Finland," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 10(6), pages 143-170, May.
    5. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2005. "Why the Apple Doesn't Fall Far: Understanding Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 437-449, March.
    6. Willis, Robert J, 1973. "A New Approach to the Economic Theory of Fertility Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(2), pages 14-64, Part II, .
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    Keywords

    Analysis of Education; Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth; Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity;

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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