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Fertility and Labor Market Responses to Reductions in Mortality

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  • Bhalotra, Sonia R.

    (University of Warwick)

  • Venkataramani, Atheendar

    (Massachusetts General Hospital)

  • Walther, Selma

Abstract

We investigate women's fertility, labor and marriage market responses to large declines in child and maternal mortality that occurred following a major medical innovation in the US. In response to the decline in child mortality, women delayed childbearing and had fewer children overall. Fewer women had three or more children, and a larger share remained childless. We present a new theory of the extensive margin response, premised upon improvements in child survival reducing the time women need to achieve their target number of children. This prompts fertility delay and labor market entry which, coupled with wage or fecundity shocks, can result in childlessness. Consistent with these predictions, we find that reductions in child mortality increased women's labor force participation, improved their occupational status and reduced their chances of ever having married. Maternal mortality decline had opposing effects on all of these outcomes.

Suggested Citation

  • Bhalotra, Sonia R. & Venkataramani, Atheendar & Walther, Selma, 2018. "Fertility and Labor Market Responses to Reductions in Mortality," IZA Discussion Papers 11716, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp11716
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    Cited by:

    1. Finlay, Jocelyn E., 2021. "Women’s reproductive health and economic activity: A narrative review," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 139(C).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    maternal mortality; child mortality; childlessness; fertility timing; women's labor force participation; medical innovation;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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