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The Impact of Education on Family Formation: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from the UK

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  • Michael Geruso
  • Heather Royer

Abstract

We examine the impact of educational attainment on fertility and mating market outcomes. Using a regression discontinuity design, we exploit an extension of the compulsory schooling age from 15 to 16 in 1972 in the UK. The change was binding for a quarter of the population. Simple plots of the raw data show substantially lower teen fertility rates across the threshold of the reform, but no impacts on abortions and no impact on completed fertility by age 45. In the mating market, the reform induced both men and women to marry more educated mates, consistent with positive assortative mating. We show that timing of the teen fertility reduction coincided with the timing of the extra induced schooling and that the probability of marrying a peer in the same academic cohort rose. These results suggest that school attendance may have important direct effects, in addition to and separate from the human capital effects of education.

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  • Michael Geruso & Heather Royer, 2018. "The Impact of Education on Family Formation: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from the UK," NBER Working Papers 24332, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:24332
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    Cited by:

    1. Zhang, Zheyuan & Zhao, Zhong, 2023. "Women's education and fertility in China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 78(C).
    2. Chicoine,Luke, 2020. "Free Primary Education, Fertility, and Women's Access to the Labor Market : Evidence from Ethiopia," Policy Research Working Paper Series 9105, The World Bank.
    3. 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.
    4. Hanna Virtanen & Mikko Silliman & Tiina Kuuppelomäki & Kristiina Huttunen, "undated". "Education, Gender, and Family Formation," Working Papers 340, Työn ja talouden tutkimus LABORE, The Labour Institute for Economic Research LABORE.
    5. Hamad, Rita & Elser, Holly & Tran, Duy C. & Rehkopf, David H. & Goodman, Steven N., 2018. "How and why studies disagree about the effects of education on health: A systematic review and meta-analysis of studies of compulsory schooling laws," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 212(C), pages 168-178.
    6. Mario Fiorini & Katrien Stevens, 2021. "Scrutinizing the Monotonicity Assumption in IV and fuzzy RD designs," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 83(6), pages 1475-1526, December.
    7. Anna Adamecz-Völgyi & Ágota Scharle, 2020. "Books or babies? The incapacitation effect of schooling on minority women," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 33(4), pages 1219-1261, October.
    8. Bhaskar, Venkataraman & Anderberg, Dan & Bagger, Jesper & Wilson, Tanya, 2019. "Marriage Market Equilibrium, Qualifications, and Ability," CEPR Discussion Papers 13590, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    9. Bellés-Obrero, Cristina & Cabrales, Antonio & Jiménez-Martín, Sergi & Vall-Castelló, Judit, 2023. "Women’s education, fertility and children’ health during a gender equalization process: Evidence from a child labor reform in Spain," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 154(C).
    10. de New, Sonja C. & Schurer, Stefanie & Sulzmaier, Dominique, 2021. "Gender differences in the lifecycle benefits of compulsory schooling policies," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 140(C).
    11. Daniel Kamhoefer & Matthias Westphal, 2017. "Fertility Effects of College Education: Evidence from the German Educational Expansion," CINCH Working Paper Series 1705, Universitaet Duisburg-Essen, Competent in Competition and Health.
    12. Koppensteiner, Martin Foureaux & Matheson, Jesse, 2019. "Secondary School Enrolment and Teenage Childbearing: Evidence from Brazilian Municipalities," IZA Discussion Papers 12504, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    13. Richard Akresh & Daniel Halim & Marieke Kleemans, 2023. "Long-Term and Intergenerational Effects of Education: Evidence from School Construction in Indonesia," The Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 133(650), pages 582-612.
    14. Virtanen, Hanna & Silliman, Mikko & Kuuppelomäki, Tiina & Huttunen, Kristiina, 2024. "Education, Gender, and Family Formation," ETLA Working Papers 116, The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy.
    15. Chen, Jiwei & Guo, Jiangying, 2022. "The effect of female education on fertility: Evidence from China’s compulsory schooling reform," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 88(C).
    16. Cuevas Ruiz, Pilar & Borra, Cristina & Sevilla, Almudena, 2023. "The causal impact of maternal educational curricula on infant health at birth," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 121334, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    17. Stephanie von Hinke, 2022. "Education, Dietary Intakes and Exercise," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 84(1), pages 214-240, February.
    18. Hofmarcher, Thomas, 2021. "The effect of education on poverty: A European perspective," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 83(C).
    19. Schaffner, Sandra & Siebert-Meyerhoff, Andrea, 2017. "The effect of schooling age on fertility," Ruhr Economic Papers 741, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    20. Shuang Chen, 2022. "The Positive Effect of Women’s Education on Fertility in Low-Fertility China," European Journal of Population, Springer;European Association for Population Studies, vol. 38(1), pages 125-161, March.
    21. DeCicca, Philip & Krashinsky, Harry, 2020. "Does education reduce teen fertility? Evidence from compulsory schooling laws," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(C).
    22. Salome Maseki & Hisahiro Naito, 2019. "Does Education Reduce Fertility in a Low Income Country ? Evidence based on Fuzzy Regression Discontinuity Design in Tanzania," Tsukuba Economics Working Papers 2019-001, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Tsukuba.
    23. Dan Anderberg & Jesper Bagger & V. Bhaskar & Tanya Wilson, 2022. "Marriage market equilibrium with matching on latent ability: Identification using a compulsory schooling expansion," Working Papers 2022_11, Business School - Economics, University of Glasgow.

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    JEL classification:

    • I26 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Returns to Education
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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