DP8339 Does Parental Education Affect Fertility? Evidence from Pre-Demographic Transition Prussia

Author(s): Sascha O. Becker, Francesco Cinnirella, Ludger Woessmann
Publication Date: April 2011
Keyword(s): Demographic Transition, Female Education, Fertility, Nineteenth Century Prussia
JEL(s): J13, J24, N33
Programme Areas: Labour Economics
Link to this Page: http://www.cepr.org/pubs/dps/DP8339

While women's employment opportunities, relative wages, and the child quantity-quality trade-off have been studied as factors underlying historical fertility limitation, the role of parental education has received little attention. We combine Prussian county data from three censuses--1816, 1849, and 1867--to estimate the relationship between women’s education and their fertility before the demographic transition. Despite controlling for several demand and supply factors, we find a negative residual effect of women’s education on fertility. Instrumental-variable estimates, using exogenous variation in women's education driven by differences in landownership inequality, suggest that the effect of women’s education on fertility is causal.