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Fertility, female labor force participation, and the demographic dividend

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.

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Correspondence to David E. Bloom.

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Open Access This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License ( https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0 ), which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.

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Bloom, D.E., Canning, D., Fink, G. et al. Fertility, female labor force participation, and the demographic dividend. J Econ Growth 14, 79–101 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10887-009-9039-9

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Keywords

  • Fertility
  • Labor supply
  • Demographic dividend

JEL Classification

  • J13
  • J22
  • O15