Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
Working Paper Series
The Effect of Fertility on Mothers’ Labor Supply over the Last Two Centuries
This paper documents the evolving impact of childbearing on the work activity of mothers. Based on a compiled dataset of 441 censuses and surveys between 1787 and 2015, representing 103 countries and 48.4 million mothers, we document three main findings: (1) the effect of fertility on labor supply is small and typically indistinguishable from zero at low levels of development and economically large and negative at higher levels of development; (2) this negative gradient is remarkably consistent across histories of currently developed countries and contemporary cross-sections of countries; and (3) the results are strikingly robust to identification strategies, model specification, data construction, and rescaling. We explain our results within a standard labor-leisure model and attribute the negative labor supply gradient to changes in the sectoral and occupational structure of female jobs as countries develop.
Cite this item
Rajeev Dehejia & Rajeev Dehejia & Andrew Jordan & Cristian Pop-Eleches & Cyrus Samii & Karl Schulze, The Effect of Fertility on Mothers’ Labor Supply over the Last Two Centuries, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Working Paper Series WP-2017-14, 17 Sep 2017.
- F63 - International Economics - - Economic Impacts of Globalization - - - Economic Development
- F66 - International Economics - - Economic Impacts of Globalization - - - Labor
- J00 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - General
- J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
- N00 - Economic History - - General - - - General
Keywords: Twins; instrumental variables; development; economic history; fertility; labor supply
This item with handle RePEc:fip:fedhwp:wp-2017-14
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