NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Impact of Education on Family Formation: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from the UK

Michael Geruso, Heather Royer

NBER Working Paper No. 24332
Issued in February 2018
NBER Program(s):Economics of Education, Labor Studies, Public Economics

We examine the impact of educational attainment on fertility and mating market outcomes. Using a regression discontinuity design, we exploit an extension of the compulsory schooling age from 15 to 16 in 1972 in the UK. The change was binding for a quarter of the population. Simple plots of the raw data show substantially lower teen fertility rates across the threshold of the reform, but no impacts on abortions and no impact on completed fertility by age 45. In the mating market, the reform induced both men and women to marry more educated mates, consistent with positive assortative mating. We show that timing of the teen fertility reduction coincided with the timing of the extra induced schooling and that the probability of marrying a peer in the same academic cohort rose. These results suggest that school attendance may have important direct effects, in addition to and separate from the human capital effects of education.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w24332

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