We estimate the effect of fertility on female labor force participation in a panel of countries using abortion legislation as an instrument for fertility. We find that removing legal restrictions on abortion significantly reduces fertility and estimate that, on average, a birth reduces a woman’s labor supply by almost 2 years during her reproductive life. Our results imply that behavioral change, in the form of increased female labor supply, contributes significantly to economic growth during the demographic transition when fertility declines.


Fertility Labor supply Demographic dividend

JEL Classification

J13 J22 O15

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009