nep-dem New Economics Papers
on Demographic Economics
Issue of 2024‒01‒01
four papers chosen by
Héctor Pifarré i Arolas, University of Wisconsin

  1. The Intergenerational Effects of Parental Leave: Exploiting Forty Years of U.S. Policy Variation By Andrea M. Flores; George-Levi Gayle; Andrés Hincapié
  2. The Outlook for Women's Employment and Labor Force Participation By Stefania Albanesi
  3. What Explains the Growing Gender Education Gap? The Effects of Parental Background, the Labor Market and the Marriage Market on College Attainment By Eckstein, Zvi; Keane, Michael P.; Lifshitz, Osnat
  4. Labor Market Stability and Fertility Decisions By Joan Monras; Eduardo Polo-Muro; Javier Vazquez-Grenno

  1. By: Andrea M. Flores; George-Levi Gayle; Andrés Hincapié
    Abstract: We study the effects of job-protected leave policies on intergenerational mobility, long-run child outcomes, and parental decisions (labor market, investments in children, and fertility). We merge rich sources of historical information on family leave policies across the United States since 1973 with over 40 years of survey data covering two generations of individuals. Exploiting variation in the timing of job-protected leave policies introduced in a large set of 18 states and the District of Columbia before the enactment of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in 1993, we find that the pre-FMLA protected leave policies had a level effect and a mobility effect. The level effect yields from overall improvements in education and wages for the children born under these policies. The mobility effect, chiefly an increase in intergenerational mobility in education, stems from heterogeneity in the effects of the policies: children of mothers with fewer years of education benefit more. As a potential mechanism, we find that the policies increased mothers’ time investments in children and the likelihood of the households having childcare expenses. Finally, consistent with the tradeoffs of policy design, we find that the policies exacerbated the motherhood penalty in labor market outcomes and that they affected fertility choices, increasing the likelihood of having a first child and decreasing the likelihood of having subsequent children.
    JEL: I24 I38 J13 J22
    Date: 2023–11
  2. By: Stefania Albanesi
    Abstract: Employment and participation rates for US prime age women rose steadily during the second half of the 20th century. In the last 30 years, however, those rates stagnated, even as employment and participation rates for women in other industrialized countries continued to rise. I discuss the role of changes in the earnings structure and persistent institutional barriers, such as limited investment in family policies, that may be holding back employment among American women today. The COVID-19 pandemic reduced employment more for women than for men and raised the barriers to female participation due to the increase in childcare responsibilities during this period. Yet, the diffusion of remote and hybrid work arrangements in its aftermath may be beneficial for women's participation in the long run, even if both men's and women's post-pandemic employment growth so far are strongly associated with access to remote work options.
    JEL: E20 E6 H2 H31 H4 H52 J16 J21 J22 J30 J31 J33
    Date: 2023–11
  3. By: Eckstein, Zvi (Reichman University); Keane, Michael P. (Johns Hopkins University); Lifshitz, Osnat (Reichman University)
    Abstract: In the 1960 cohort, American men and women graduated from college at the same rate, and this was true for Whites, Blacks and Hispanics. But in more recent cohorts, women graduate at much higher rates than men. To understand the emerging gender education gap, we formulate and estimate a model of individual and family decision-making where education, labor supply, marriage and fertility are all endogenous. Assuming preferences that are common across ethnic groups and fixed over cohorts, our model explains differences in all endogenous variables by gender/ethnicity for the '60-'80 cohorts based on three exogenous factors: family background, labor market and marriage market constraints. Changes in parental background are a key factor driving the growing gender education gap: Women with college educated mothers get greater utility from college, and are much more likely to graduate themselves. The marriage market also contributes: Women's chance of getting marriage offers at older ages has increased, enabling them to defer marriage. The labor market is the largest factor: Improvement in women's labor market return to college in recent cohorts accounts for 50% of the increase in their graduation rate. But the labor market returns to college are still greater for men. Women go to college more because their overall return is greater, after factoring in marriage market returns and their greater utility from college attendance. We predict the recent large increases in women's graduation rates will cause their children's graduation rates to increase further. But growth in the aggregate graduation rate will slow substantially, due to significant increases in the share of Hispanics – a group with a low graduation rate – in recent birth cohorts.
    Keywords: returns to college, parental background, college graduation, education, gender wage gap, assortative mating, labor supply, marriage, fertility
    JEL: J08 J12 J21 E24
    Date: 2023–11
  4. By: Joan Monras; Eduardo Polo-Muro; Javier Vazquez-Grenno
    Abstract: This paper studies how fertility decisions respond to an improvement in job stability using variation from the large and unexpected regularization of undocumented immigrants in Spain implemented during the first half of 2005. This policy change improved substantially the labor market opportunities of affected men and women, many of which left the informality of house keeping service sectors toward more formal, stable, and higher paying jobs in larger firms (Elias et al., 2023). In this paper, we estimate the effects of the regularization on fertility rates using two alternative difference-in-differences strategies that compare fertility behavior of “eligible” and “non-eligible” candidate women to obtain the legal status, both on aggregate and at the local level. Our findings suggests that gaining work permits leads to a significant increase in women fertility. Our preferred estimates indicate that the regularization increased fertility rates among affected women by around 5 points, which is a 10 percent increase.
    Keywords: labor markets; stability; fertility; immigration policy
    JEL: J13 J61 K37
    Date: 2023–11–14

This nep-dem issue is ©2024 by Héctor Pifarré i Arolas. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.