DP17255 Fertility and Labor Market Responses to Reductions in Mortality

Author(s): Sonia Bhalotra, Atheendar Venkataramani, Selma Walther
Publication Date: April 2022
Keyword(s): child mortality, Childlessness, fertility timing, medical innovation, women's labor force participation
JEL(s): I18, J13
Programme Areas: Labour Economics, Public Economics, Development Economics, Economic History
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=17255

We investigate women's fertility, labor and marriage market responses to large declines in child mortality. We find delayed childbearing, with lower intensive and extensive margin fertility, a decline in the chances of ever having married, increased labor force participation and an improvement in occupational status. This constitutes the first evidence that improvements in child survival allow women to start fertility later and invest more in the labor market. We present a new theory of fertility that incorporates dynamic choices and reconciles our findings with existing models of behavior.