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Population Policies, Fertility, Women's Human Capital, and Child Quality


T. Paul Schultz


Yale University - Economic Growth Center; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

May 2007

Yale University Economic Growth Center Discussion Paper No. 954
IZA Discussion Paper No. 2815

Abstract:     
Population policies are defined here as voluntary programs which help people control their fertility and expect to improve their lives. There are few studies of the long-run effects of policy-induced changes in fertility on the welfare of women, such as policies that subsidize the diffusion and use of best practice birth control technologies. Evaluation of the consequences of such family planning programs almost never assess their long-run consequences, such as on labor supply, savings, or investment in the human capital of children, although they occasionally estimate the short-run association with the adoption of contraception or age-specific fertility. The dearth of long-run family planning experiments has led economists to consider instrumental variables as a substitute for policy interventions which not only determine variation in fertility but are arguably independent of the reproductive preferences of parents or unobserved constraints that might influence family life cycle behaviors. Using these instrumental variables to estimate the effect of this exogenous variation in fertility on family outcomes, economists discover these "cross effects" of fertility on family welfare outcomes tend to be substantially smaller in absolute magnitude than the OLS estimates of partial correlations referred to in the literature as evidence of the beneficial social externalities associated with the policies that reduce fertility. The paper summarizes critically the empirical literature on fertility and development and proposes an agenda for research on the topic.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 58

Keywords: Consequences of fertility decline, child quality, evaluation of population policies

JEL Classification: J13, J24, O15

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Date posted: May 14, 2007  

Suggested Citation

Schultz, T. Paul, Population Policies, Fertility, Women's Human Capital, and Child Quality (May 2007). Yale University Economic Growth Center Discussion Paper No. 954; IZA Discussion Paper No. 2815. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=985956

Contact Information

T. Paul Schultz (Contact Author)
Yale University - Economic Growth Center ( email )
Box 208269
New Haven, CT 06520-8269
United States
203-432-3620 (Phone)
203-432-5591 (Fax)
Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)
P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany
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