, Volume 56, Issue 3, pp 969–990 | Cite as

Causal Impact of Having a College Degree on Women’s Fertility: Evidence From Regression Kink Designs

  • Hosung SohnEmail author
  • Suk-Won Lee


An important factor speculated to affect fertility level is education. Theoretical predictions regarding whether education increases or decreases fertility are ambiguous. This study analyzes the causal impact of higher education on fertility using census data administered by Statistics Korea. To account for the endogeneity of education, this study exploits the Korean higher education reform initiated in 1993 that boosted women’s likelihood of graduating from college. Based on regression kink designs, we find that having a college degree reduces the likelihood of childbirths by 23 percentage points and the total number of childbirths by 1.3. Analyses of possible mechanisms show that labor market–related factors are a significant channel driving the negative effects; female college graduates are more likely to be wage earners and more likely to have high-wage occupations.


Higher education Female fertility Regression kink designs College degree 



We thank the Editors and two referees for invaluable suggestions. We are also indebted to Sangho Kim, Yoonseob Oh, Hisam Kim, Wan-Sub Lim, and other seminar participants at the Korean Institute of Health and Social Affairs. This research was supported by the Korean Institute of Health and Social Affairs, and an earlier version of this paper circulated as the Institute’s working paper (Research Paper 2017-01) under the title, “Analyzing the Causal Impact of Higher Education on Fertility and Potential Mechanisms: Evidence from Regression Kink Designs.”


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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Public Service, College of Social SciencesChung-Ang UniversitySeoulSouth Korea
  2. 2.Graduate School of Public AdministrationSeoul National UniversitySeoulSouth Korea

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