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Mother's Schooling and Fertility under Low Female Labor Force Participation: Evidence from a Natural Experiment

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  • Victor Lavy
  • Alexander Zablotsky

Abstract

This paper studies the effect of mothers' education on fertility in a population with very low female labor force participation. The results we present are particularly relevant to many countries in the Muslim world where 70-80 percent of women are still out of the labor force. For identification we exploit the abrupt end of the military rule which greatly restricted the mobility of Arabs in Israel until the mid-1960's. This change improved access to schooling in communities that lacked schools and, as a consequence, significantly increased the education of affected cohorts, mainly of girls. The very large increase in schooling attainment triggered a sharp decline in completed fertility. We show that no other changes explain these findings and that the results are robust to checks against various threats to identification. We rule out convergence in fertility and schooling, changes in labor-force participation, age upon marriage, marriage and divorce rates, and spousal labor-force participation and earnings as mechanisms in this fertility decline. Spousal education increased however sharply through assortative matching and played a role in the fertility decline. We also show that the increase in mother's education was significantly and positively correlated with several potential mechanisms such as a reduction in the desired number of children, better knowledge and higher probability of using contraceptives, recognition that family size can compromise children quality, larger role for women in family decision making, less religiosity, and positive attitude towards modern health care and modernism in general.

Suggested Citation

  • Victor Lavy & Alexander Zablotsky, 2011. "Mother's Schooling and Fertility under Low Female Labor Force Participation: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," NBER Working Papers 16856, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16856
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Pedro Carneiro & Costas Meghir & Matthias Parey, 2013. "Maternal Education, Home Environments, And The Development Of Children And Adolescents," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11, pages 123-160, January.
    2. Angrist, Joshua D & Lavy, Victor, 1997. "The Effect of a Change in Language of Instruction on the Returns to Schooling in Morocco," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages 48-76, January.
    3. Victor Lavy, 2010. "Effects of Free Choice Among Public Schools," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(3), pages 1164-1191.
    4. Omer Moav, 2005. "Cheap Children and the Persistence of Poverty," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(500), pages 88-110, January.
    5. Karin Monstad & Carol Propper & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2008. "Education and Fertility: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 110(4), pages 827-852, December.
    6. Joshua Angrist & Victor Lavy & Analia Schlosser, 2010. "Multiple Experiments for the Causal Link between the Quantity and Quality of Children," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(4), pages 773-824, October.
    7. Philip Oreopoulos & Marianne E. Page, 2006. "The Intergenerational Effects of Compulsory Schooling," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(4), pages 729-760, October.
    8. SandraE. Black & PaulJ. Devereux & KjellG. Salvanes, 2008. "Staying in the Classroom and out of the maternity ward? The effect of compulsory schooling laws on teenage births," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 118(530), pages 1025-1054, July.
    9. Black, Sandra E. & Devereux, Paul J., 2011. "Recent Developments in Intergenerational Mobility," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier.
    10. Eric Maurin & Sandra McNally, 2008. "Vive la Révolution! Long-Term Educational Returns of 1968 to the Angry Students," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26, pages 1-33.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Murat G. Kýrdar & Meltem Dayýoglu Tayfur & Ýsmet Koç, 2010. "The Effect of Compulsory Schooling Laws on Teenage Marriage and Births in Turkey," Koç University-TUSIAD Economic Research Forum Working Papers 1035, Koc University-TUSIAD Economic Research Forum.
    2. Miron Tequame & Nyasha Tirivayi, 2015. "Higher education and fertility: Evidence from a natural experiment in Ethiopia," CINCH Working Paper Series 1509, Universitaet Duisburg-Essen, Competent in Competition and Health, revised Aug 2015.
    3. Alsan, Marcella M. & Cutler, David M., 2013. "Girls’ education and HIV risk: Evidence from Uganda," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 863-872.
    4. Resul Cesur & Naci H. Mocan, 2013. "Does Secular Education Impact Religiosity, Electoral Participation and the Propensity to Vote for Islamic Parties? Evidence from an Education Reform in a Muslim Country," NBER Working Papers 19769, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Becker, Sascha O; Cinnirella, Francesco; Woessmann, Ludger, 2011. "Does Parental Education Affect Fertility? Evidence from Pre-Demographic Transition Prussia," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 41, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    6. Arntz, Melanie & Gathmann, Christina, 2014. "Permanent Changes in the Wage Structure and the East German Fertility Crisis," Annual Conference 2014 (Hamburg): Evidence-based Economic Policy 100464, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    7. Chicoine, Luke, 2012. "Education and Fertility: Evidence from a Policy Change in Kenya," IZA Discussion Papers 6778, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. M. Fort & N. Schneeweis & R. Winter-Ebmer, 2011. "More Schooling, More Children: Compulsory Schooling Reforms and Fertility in Europe," Working Papers wp787, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
    9. Mabel Andalón & Jenny Williams & Michael Grossman, 2014. "Empowering Women: The Effect of Schooling on Young Women's Knowledge and Use of Contraception," NBER Working Papers 19961, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Cygan-Rehm, Kamila & Maeder, Miriam, 2013. "The effect of education on fertility: Evidence from a compulsory schooling reform," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(C), pages 35-48.
    11. Jungho Kim, 2016. "Female education and its impact on fertility," IZA World of Labor, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), pages 228-228, February.
    12. Kamila Cygan-Rehm & Miriam Maeder, 2012. "The Effect of Education on Fertility: Evidence from a Compulsory Schooling Reform," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 528, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    13. Fort, Margherita & Schneeweis, Nicole & Winter-Ebmer, Rudolf, 2011. "More Schooling, More Children," Economics Series 281, Institute for Advanced Studies.
    14. repec:aea:aejapp:v:9:y:2017:i:4:p:166-85 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Eliana La Ferrara & Annamaria Milazzo, 2017. "Customary Norms, Inheritance, and Human Capital: Evidence from a Reform of the Matrilineal System in Ghana," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 9(4), pages 166-185, October.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • J2 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor

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