The Effect of Fertility on Mothers’ Labor Supply Over the Last Two Centuries

97 Pages Posted: 19 Sep 2017

See all articles by Daniel Aaronson

Daniel Aaronson

Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago

Rajeev H. Dehejia

New York University (NYU) - Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA); CESifo

Andrew Jordan

University of Chicago

Cristian Pop-Eleches

Columbia University - School of International & Public Affairs (SIPA)

Cyrus Samii

New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: 2017-09-17

Abstract

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.

Keywords: Twins, instrumental variables, development, economic history, fertility, labor supply

JEL Classification: F63, F66, J00, J13, N00

Suggested Citation

Aaronson, Daniel and Dehejia, Rajeev H. and Jordan, Andrew and Pop-Eleches, Cristian (Kiki) and Samii, Cyrus, The Effect of Fertility on Mothers’ Labor Supply Over the Last Two Centuries (2017-09-17). FRB of Chicago Working Paper No. WP-2017-14. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3038735

Daniel Aaronson (Contact Author)

Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago ( email )

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Rajeev H. Dehejia

New York University (NYU) - Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service ( email )

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CESifo ( email )

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Andrew Jordan

University of Chicago

Cristian (Kiki) Pop-Eleches

Columbia University - School of International & Public Affairs (SIPA) ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://www.columbia.edu/~cp2124

Cyrus Samii

New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics ( email )

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New York, NY 10003
United States

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