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Comparative Advantage, International Trade, and Fertility

Listed author(s):
  • Quy-Toan Do
  • Andrei A. Levchenko
  • Claudio Raddatz

We analyze theoretically and empirically the impact of comparative advantage in international trade on fertility. We build a model in which industries differ in the extent to which they use female relative to male labor, and countries are characterized by Ricardian comparative advantage in either female-labor or male-labor intensive goods. The main prediction of the model is that countries with comparative advantage in female-labor intensive goods are characterized by lower fertility. This is because female wages, and therefore the opportunity cost of children are higher in those countries. We demonstrate empirically that countries with comparative advantage in industries employing primarily women exhibit lower fertility. We use a geography-based instrument for trade patterns to isolate the causal effect of comparative advantage on fertility.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 21677.

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Date of creation: Oct 2015
Publication status: published as Do, Quy-Toan & Levchenko, Andrei A. & Raddatz, Claudio, 2016. "Comparative advantage, international trade, and fertility," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 119(C), pages 48-66.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:21677
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