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Maternal Health and Fertility: An International Perspective

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  • Stefania Albanesi

    () (Federal Reserve Bank of New York and CEPR)

Abstract

This paper examines the impact of the decline in maternal mortality on fertility and women's human capital. Fertility theory suggests that a permanent decline in maternal mortality initially increases fertility and generates a permanent rise in women's human capital, relative to men. The resulting rise in the opportunity cost of children leads to a subsequent decline in desired fertility, generating a boom-bust response. We assess these predictions using newly digitized data on maternal mortality for 25 advanced and emerging economies for the time period 1900-2000. The empirical estimates suggest that the decline in maternal mortality contributed significantly to the baby booms and subsequent baby busts experienced by these economies in the twentieth century, and that the female-male differential in education attainment grew more in those countries that experience a sizable maternal mortality decline.

Suggested Citation

  • Stefania Albanesi, 2013. "Maternal Health and Fertility: An International Perspective," Working Papers 2013-005, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
  • Handle: RePEc:hka:wpaper:2013-005
    Note: FI
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    File URL: http://humcap.uchicago.edu/RePEc/hka/wpaper/Albanesi_2012_maternal-health-fertility.pdf
    File Function: First version, July, 2012
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Seema Jayachandran & Adriana Lleras-Muney & Kimberly V. Smith, 2009. "Modern Medicine and the 20th Century Decline in Mortality: Evidence on the Impact of Sulfa Drugs," NBER Working Papers 15089, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Rodrigo R. Soares, 2005. "Mortality Reductions, Educational Attainment, and Fertility Choice," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 580-601, June.
    3. Stefania Albanesi & Claudia Olivetti, 2014. "Maternal health and the baby boom," Quantitative Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 5, pages 225-269, July.
    4. Larry E. Jones & Alice Schoonbroodt, 2010. "Complements Versus Substitutes And Trends In Fertility Choice In Dynastic Models," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 51(3), pages 671-699, August.
    5. Gary S. Becker & Robert J. Barro, 1988. "A Reformulation of the Economic Theory of Fertility," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 103(1), pages 1-25.
    6. Matthias Doepke & Moshe Hazan & Yishay D. Maoz, 2015. "The Baby Boom and World War II: A Macroeconomic Analysis," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 82(3), pages 1031-1073.
    7. Samuel H. Preston & Michael R. Haines, 1991. "Fatal Years: Child Mortality in Late Nineteenth-Century America," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number pres91-1, July.
    8. Seema Jayachandran & Adriana Lleras-Muney, 2009. "Life Expectancy and Human Capital Investments: Evidence from Maternal Mortality Declines," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(1), pages 349-397.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Maternal mortality decline; fertility choice; baby boom; women's; human capital;

    JEL classification:

    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • N3 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy

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