Does Education Delay the Timing of First Birth?

Dean R. Lillard, Cornell University
Ning Zhang, Cornell University

The secular decline in fertility that has occurred over the last thirty years in both developing and developed economies is often attributed to rising levels of education of women. The decline is partly due to a delay in the timing of first birth. The average age of first birth in the United States has increased from 21.4 in 1970 to 25.1 in 2002 (Centers for Disease Control 2004). Whether education plays a causal role or only is an outcome of other unobserved factors remains an open question. We use exogenous variation in college tuition and residential location to investigate a causal effect of education on the timing of first birth. We use individual fertility and educational data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics and the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 and tuition data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.

  See extended abstract

Presented in Session 37: Timing of Childbearing