Education and the Timing of Births: Evidence from a Natural Experiment in Italy
Margherita Fort, Università di Padova
This paper assesses the causal effects of education on the timing of first order births, allowing for heterogeneity in the effects while controlling for self-selection of women into education. Identification relies on exogenous variation in schooling induced by a mandatory school reform rolled out nationwide in Italy in the early 1960s. Findings based on Census data (Italy, 1981) suggest that a large fraction of the women affected by the reform postpone the time of first birth but catch up with this fertility delay before turning 26. There is some evidence that the fertility behavior of the women whose educational level is affected by the reform is substantially different from the one of the average woman in the population.