DP6816 Education and Fertility: Evidence from a Natural Experiment

Author(s): Karin Monstad, Carol Propper, Kjell G Salvanes
Publication Date: May 2008
Keyword(s): causal effect, education, female fertility
JEL(s): I20, J13
Programme Areas: Public Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=6816

In many developed countries a decline in fertility has occurred. This development has been attributed to greater education of women. However, establishing a causal link is difficult as both fertility and education have changed secularly. The contribution of this paper is to study the connection between fertility and education over a woman?s fertile period focusing on whether the relationship is causal. We study fertility in Norway and use an educational reform as an instrument to correct for selection into education. Our results indicate that increasing education leads to postponement of first births away from teenage motherhood towards having the first birth in their twenties and, for a smaller group, up to the age of 35-40. We do not find, however, evidence that total fertility falls as a result of greater education.