Do Highly Educated Women Choose Smaller Families?


  • We thank Frederic Vermeulen (the editor) and three anonymous referees. We also thank Ghazala Azmat, Alma Cohen, David de la Croix, Alon Eizenberg, Oded Galor, Cecilia Garcia Peñalosa, Jeremy Greenwood, Nezih Guner, Zvi Hercowitz, Oksana Leukhina, Marco Manacorda, Guy Michaels, Yishay Maoz, Stelios Michalopoulos, Omer Moav, Steve Pischke, Tali Regev, Yona Rubinstein, Analia Schlosser, Christian Siegel, David Weil, Marios Zachariadis, seminar participants at the University of Cyprus, London School of Economics, Paris Seminar in Demographic Economics, Tel Aviv University, and conference participants in the II Workshop on ‘Towards Sustained Economic Growth’, Barcelona 2011, the Society for Economic Dynamics, Limassol 2012 and the Economic Workshop at IDC, Herzliya 2012. Maor Milgrom provided excellent research assistance.


We present evidence that the cross-sectional relationship between fertility and women's education in the US has recently become U-shaped. The number of hours women work has concurrently increased with their education. In our model, raising children and homemaking require parents’ time, which could be substituted by services such as childcare and housekeeping. By substituting their own time for market services to raise children and run their households, highly educated women are able to have more children and work longer hours. We find that the change in the relative cost of childcare accounts for the emergence of this new pattern.