IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Do More-Schooled Women have Fewer Children and Delay Childbearing? Evidence from a Sample of U.S. Twins


  • Vikesh Amin

    () (SUNY Binghamton)

  • Jere R. Behrman

    () (Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania)


Using data on MZ (monozygotic, identical) female twins from the Minnesota Twin Registry, we estimate the causal effect of schooling on completed fertility, probability of being childless and age at first birth, using the within-MZ twins methodology. We find strong cross-sectional associations between schooling and the fertility outcomes and some evidence that more schooling causes women to have fewer children and delay childbearing, though not to the extent that interpreting cross-sectional associations as causal would imply. Our conclusions are robust when taking account of (1) endogenous within-twin pair schooling differences due to reverse causality and (2) measurement error in schooling. We also investigate possible mechanisms and find that the effect of women’s schooling on completed fertility is not mediated through husband’s schooling but rather through age at first marriage.

Suggested Citation

  • Vikesh Amin & Jere R. Behrman, 2011. "Do More-Schooled Women have Fewer Children and Delay Childbearing? Evidence from a Sample of U.S. Twins," PIER Working Paper Archive 11-041, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
  • Handle: RePEc:pen:papers:11-041

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Heather Royer, 2009. "Separated at Girth: US Twin Estimates of the Effects of Birth Weight," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 49-85, January.
    2. Sandewall, Örjan & Cesarini, David & Johannesson, Magnus, 2014. "The co-twin methodology and returns to schooling — testing a critical assumption," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(C), pages 1-10.
    3. Justin McCrary & Heather Royer, 2011. "The Effect of Female Education on Fertility and Infant Health: Evidence from School Entry Policies Using Exact Date of Birth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(1), pages 158-195, February.
    4. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2007. "From the Cradle to the Labor Market? The Effect of Birth Weight on Adult Outcomes," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(1), pages 409-439.
    5. Osili, Una Okonkwo & Long, Bridget Terry, 2008. "Does female schooling reduce fertility? Evidence from Nigeria," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(1), pages 57-75, August.
    6. Petter Lundborg, 2013. "The health returns to schooling—what can we learn from twins?," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 26(2), pages 673-701, April.
    7. 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.
    8. Miller, Paul & Mulvey, Charles & Martin, Nick, 2005. "Birth weight and schooling and earnings: estimates from a sample of twins," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 86(3), pages 387-392, March.
    9. 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.
    10. 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.
    11. Kate L. Antonovics & Arthur S. Goldberger, 2005. "Does Increasing Women's Schooling Raise the Schooling of the Next Generation? Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(5), pages 1738-1744, December.
    12. Jere Behrman & Hans-Peter Kohler & Vibeke Jensen & Dorthe Pedersen & Inge Petersen & Paul Bingley & Kaare Christensen, 2011. "Does More Schooling Reduce Hospitalization and Delay Mortality? New Evidence Based on Danish Twins," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 48(4), pages 1347-1375, November.
    13. Elizabeth U. Cascio & Ethan G. Lewis, 2006. "Schooling and the Armed Forces Qualifying Test: Evidence from School-Entry Laws," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(2).
    14. Fort, Margherita & Schneeweis, Nicole & Winter-Ebmer, Rudolf, 2011. "More Schooling, More Children," Economics Series 281, Institute for Advanced Studies.
    15. Lundborg, Petter & Nilsson, Anton & Rooth, Dan-Olof, 2011. "Does Early Life Health Predict Schooling Within Twin Pairs?," IZA Discussion Papers 5803, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    16. Behrman, Jere R & Rosenzweig, Mark R & Taubman, Paul, 1994. "Endowments and the Allocation of Schooling in the Family and in the Marriage Market: The Twins Experiment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(6), pages 1131-1174, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    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. repec:kap:reveho:v:15:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s11150-015-9309-6 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Michael Grossman, 2015. "The Relationship between Health and Schooling: What's New?," Working Papers 8, City University of New York Graduate Center, Ph.D. Program in Economics.
    4. Murat G. Kýrdar & Meltem Dayýoðlu & Ýsmet Koç, 2016. "The Effects of Compulsory Schooling Laws on Teenage Marriage and Births in Turkey," Working Papers 2016/01, Bogazici University, Department of Economics.
    5. Alena Bicakova & Stepan Jurajda, 2014. "The Quiet Revolution and the Family: Gender Composition of Tertiary Education and Early Fertility Patterns," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp504, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute, Prague.
    6. Marcel Fafchamps & Forhad Shilpi, 2014. "Education and Household Welfare," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 63(1), pages 73-115.
    7. Margherita Fort & Nicole Schneeweis & Rudolf Winter-Ebmer, 2014. "More Schooling, More Children? Compulsory Schooling and Fertility in Europe," CESifo Working Paper Series 5068, CESifo Group Munich.
    8. Felix C. Tropf & Jornt J. Mandemakers, 2017. "Is the Association Between Education and Fertility Postponement Causal? The Role of Family Background Factors," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 54(1), pages 71-91, February.
    9. Wang, Qingfeng & Sun, Xu, 2016. "The Role of Socio-political and Economic Factors in Fertility Decline: A Cross-country Analysis," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 360-370.
    10. Jorge M. Agüero & Maithili Ramachandran, 2016. "The Intergenerational Transmission of Schooling among the Education-Rationed," Working papers 2016-25, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.

    More about this item


    twins; twins fixed-effects; schooling; fertility;

    JEL classification:

    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pen:papers:11-041. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dolly Guarini). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.