Labor Market Costs of Impaired Fecundity

Jungmin Lee, University of Arkansas
Amy Farmer, University of Arkansas

It is known that about 10%-15% of married women are experiencing some fertility difficulties in the United States. This paper examines whether impaired fecundity impacts married women’s labor market and family outcomes. In the standard economics literature, childlessness or fewer children decrease the value of time at home and therefore increase female labor supply. However, it is known in medical research that impaired fecundity poses a significant emotional burden on those who experience it. The effects extend into labor market decisions made within the family. We find that impaired fecundity decreases the likelihood of labor force participation by 18% even after controlling for a rich set of health status variables representing the history of fecundity-related diseases. The effect is however robust only for low-educated women. There exist additional economic costs with regard to infertility to both the individual as well as society beyond those generated by medical interventions.

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Presented in Poster Session 2