Education and Fertility: Evidence from a Natural Experiment*


  • *

    We are grateful to seminar participants at the European Workshop on Econometrics and Health Economics, Bergen, September 2007, the Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration, and Health Economics Bergen, for valuable comments on an earlier version of this paper. We are also grateful for the very helpful comments of two anonymous referees.


Declining fertility is often attributed to the increased education of women. It is difficult to establish a causal link because both fertility and education have changed secularly. In this paper we study the connection between fertility and education using educational reform as an instrument to control for selection. Our results indicate that increasing education leads to postponement of first births away from teenage motherhood and towards women having their first birth in their 20s as well as, for a smaller group, up to the age of 35–40. We find no evidence, however, that more education results in more women remaining childless or having fewer children.