Fertility and Women’s Labor Force Participation in Developing Countries

Maria Porter, University of Chicago
Elizabeth M. King, World Bank Group

To estimate the causal impact of fertility on women’s labor supply, we use the occurrence of twins and the gender of first births as measures of exogenous shocks to fertility. Since twins at first birth occur relatively rarely in one country, we use all available Demographic and Health Surveys. We find women in developing countries who are over 25 and had a twin boy and girl in the first birth have more children, but are more likely to participate in the labor force. Results also differ by age and geographic area. Women in Africa and Asia whose first one or two births are boys, have fewer children, and for the most part, are less likely to participate in the labor force. In contrast, women in Latin America and the Caribbean give birth to more children, but are also less likely to participate in the labor force.

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Presented in Session 105: Blending Macro and Micro Measures of Fertility Impacts on Economic Outcomes