Article

Journal of Economic Growth

, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 79-101

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Fertility, female labor force participation, and the demographic dividend

  • David E. BloomAffiliated withProgram on the Global Demography of Aging, Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard University Email author 
  • , David CanningAffiliated withProgram on the Global Demography of Aging, Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard University
  • , Günther FinkAffiliated withProgram on the Global Demography of Aging, Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard University
  • , Jocelyn E. FinlayAffiliated withProgram on the Global Demography of Aging, Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard University

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Fertility Labor supply Demographic dividend

JEL Classification

J13 J22 O15