The Effect of Education on Overall Fertility
Fertility rates have long been falling in many developed countries while educational attainment in these countries has risen. We attempt to reconcile these two trends with a novel application of a recent model to generate plausibly causal effects of education on these decreases in fertility. Specifically, we find that education “compresses” the fertility distribution – women are more likely to have at least one child, but less likely to have multiple children. We demonstrate that the mechanism for this effect is through the positive impact of education on earnings and marriage.
We thank David Blau, Isaac Ehrlich, Daeho Kim, Randy Olson, Mel Stephens, Arthur Sweetman, Casey Warman and seminar participants at McMaster University, SUNY-Buffalo, The Ohio State University, Dalhousie University, University of Waterloo and NBER for helpful comments. We are especially indebted to Phil Oreopoulos for helpful comments and sharing useful data with us. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.