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Motherhood Delay and the Human Capital of the Next Generation

Amalia R. Miller

University of Virginia - Department of Economics

October 24, 2008

This paper exploits biological fertility shocks as instrumental variables to estimate the causal effect of motherhood delay on the cognitive ability of the next generation. Using detailed panel data on women in the NLSY79 and their first-born children aged 5 to 14, we find that a year of delay leads to significant increases in math and reading scores: a 7 year delay produces gains on par with the black-white score difference. These results reveal a potential weakness of pro-natalist policies that promote early motherhood. While such policies may succeed at increasing total period fertility rates, they will be less effective at increasing total human capital.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 32

Keywords: motherhood delay; fertility incentives; human capital development

JEL Classification: J13, J18, J24

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Date posted: January 3, 2008 ; Last revised: July 27, 2009

Suggested Citation

Miller, Amalia R., Motherhood Delay and the Human Capital of the Next Generation (October 24, 2008). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1079832 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1079832

Contact Information

Amalia R. Miller (Contact Author)
University of Virginia - Department of Economics ( email )
P.O. Box 400182
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4182
United States
HOME PAGE: http://people.virginia.edu/~am5by/
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