Year of Publication

2014

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

Business and Economics

Department

Economics

First Advisor

Dr. Jenny Minier

Abstract

This dissertation focuses on the relationship between the education-based fertility gap and economic growth and on policy as a determinant of fertility.

In the first essay I evaluate the impact of differential fertility (the difference between fertility rates of women with high educational attainment and women with low educational attainment) on economic growth by accounting for critical marginal effects and the general level of educational attainment in a given country. I also examine the possibility that this effect varies based on level of inequality and income levels. I find that for a less developed country with high income inequality, higher fertility rates of women with lower education has a favorable impact on economic development.

In the second essay I examine the transmission and magnitude of the effect of differential fertility on economic growth at the subnational level. I explore the relationship between differential fertility and economic growth in a cross-U.S. state context. I find that a larger gap in fertility rates between highly-educated and less-educated women is strongly associated with a decrease in the rate of long-run economic growth across U.S. states, even after accounting for the levels of inequality and overall fertility.

In the third essay I explore policy as a determinant of the education-based fertility gap. I use the 2007 Massachusetts healthcare reform which provides a good setting for evaluating the effect of an exogenous policy on the fertility. I find that fertility increases among young married women and decreases among young unmarried women but that there is no asymmetrical fertility response based on the education level of the mother.

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