Child care availability and fertility

Ronald R. Rindfuss, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and East-West Center
David Guilkey, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
S. Philip Morgan, Duke University
Oystein Kravdal, University of Oslo

The child care and fertility hypothesis has been in the literature for a long time and is straightforward: As child care becomes more available, affordable, and acceptable, the antinatalist effects of increased female educational attainment and work opportunities decrease. As an increasing number of countries express concern about low fertility, the child care and fertility hypothesis takes on increased importance. Yet data and statistical limitations have heretofore prevented empirical agreement on the hypothesis. Using rich longitudinal data and a fixed-effects, discrete-time hazard model that controls for unobserved heterogeneity at the individual and locality level, we show that increased availability of child care clearly and consistently has a positive effect on fertility. We discuss the generalizability of these results to other settings and their broader importance for understanding low fertility variation and trends.

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Presented in Session 32: Family policies and fertility