Where are the Missing Babies? The Effect of Increased Access to Higher Education on Family Planning


Most developed countries have suffered a decline in fertility since the 1970s, which has worried policy makers because of the consequences for an aging, and shrinking, workforce. One of the determinants of fertility that has been widely studied in the literature is education. However, from an empirical perspective, it is not clear what the magnitude, or even the sign of the effect of education on fertility is. In this paper, we present unique evidence of the effect of tertiary education on fertility. To identify a causal effect, we exploit an exogenous shock to the supply of universities. Specifically, we study the effect of legal changes in the higher education system in Chile, which allowed the creation of private universities, providing greater access to higher education. Using a difference in difference approach, we estimate the effect of the creation of new universities on the probability of being a mother, the number of children and the probability of being a mother for the first time, 6, 10 and 16 years after the entry of new universities. Our results show the creation of new universities indeed had a positive and significant effect on the probability of having higher education. However, we found no effect on completed fertility. We found that greater access to higher education reduced the probability of being a mother 6 years later, but had no effect 16 years after the shock. We attribute this effect to the incompatibility of the educational system with motherhood, which forces women to postpone their fertility decisions until after completing their studies.

Información adicional

  • Presentador: Valentina Paredes
  • Proveniente: Universidad de Chile, FEN
  • Fecha: Miércoles, 01 Junio 2016
  • Hora: 12 horas
  • Lugar: Sala 788, FAE