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Causal Impact of School Starting Age on the Tempo of Childbirths: Evidence from Working Mothers and School Entry Cutoff Using Exact Date of Birth

Abstract

Many studies show that females’ age at first childbirth affects important outcomes of these females and their offspring such as health- and socioeconomic-related variables. This paper analyzes whether there is a causal relationship between working mothers’ school entry age and the timing at which they give birth by exploiting Korea’s elementary school entry cutoff regulation. Using administrative employment insurance data that record the fertility history of female working mothers together with regression discontinuity design, we find that a year’s delay in age at school starting increases age at first and second childbirth by approximately 3 and 4 months, respectively. We also find that one of the mechanisms that affects the relationship between these two variables is age at first employment. The estimated effects of SSA are likely to be salient in a country where educational sequence that a student experience is rigid.

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Data availability

We have received the administrative data from the Ministry of Labor in Korea conditional on not disclosing the data. We will assist researchers who are interested in obtaining data from the Institute.

Code availability

We will provide STATA codes for those who are interested in receiving the do file used for creating figures and tables.

Notes

  1. 1.

    We tested whether the C-section rate affects effect estimates. Specifically, we derived effect estimates when the C-section rate was very low using the 1979–82 cohorts in which the rate is much lower than 1985. The results were qualitatively similar.

  2. 2.

    Article 15 (Making List of Schoolchildren) of Chapter 2 of the Decree stipulates the following: “The head of an Eup/Myeon/Dong (i.e., administrative district) shall investigate children living in his jurisdiction as of November 1 who reach elementary school age (excluding those who attend school at the age of five pursuant to Article 13 (2) of the Act) on March 1 of the following year and make a list of schoolchildren by November 30 of the year concerned.”.

  3. 3.

    Article 15 of the Decree was amended as the following: “The head of an Eup/Myeon/Dong shall investigate children living in his/her jurisdiction as of October 1 every year who reach 6 years of age from January 1 to December 31 of the year (excluding those who are going to school by entering an elementary school in the next year of the year to which the date on which they reach 5 years of age belongs pursuant to the forepart of Article 13 (2) of the Act) and make a list of schoolchildren by October 31 of the year. In such cases, children excluded from a list of schoolchildren because they have re-quested postponement of entering a school in the year to which the date on which they reach 6 years of age belongs pursuant to paragraph (3) shall be included therein.”.

  4. 4.

    Effect estimates based on other kernel functions (e.g., Epanechnikov) and higher-order polynomials are qualitatively similar and available upon requests.

  5. 5.

    The effect estimate on the timing of first childbirth based on cohorts without the 1979 to 1982 birth cohorts is very similar with the full analysis sample (available upon request). Note, however, that if we drop these cohorts, it would be very difficult to analyze the effect on the timing of second childbirth because our data time frame does not allow for keeping track of second childbirth for later birth cohorts.

  6. 6.

    Mothers who are born on February 29 are coded as being born on February 28 for the sake of simplicity.

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Chang, I., Park, H. & Sohn, H. Causal Impact of School Starting Age on the Tempo of Childbirths: Evidence from Working Mothers and School Entry Cutoff Using Exact Date of Birth. Eur J Population 37, 997–1022 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10680-021-09597-x

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Keywords

  • School starting age
  • Fertility tempo
  • Age at first employment
  • Regression discontinuity design