Education and Family Formation: Lessons from an Expansion of Upper Secondary Schooling

Hans Gronqvist, Stockholm University
Caroline Hall, IFAU

This paper investigates the effect of education on fertility and marital outcomes. We study a major educational reform in Sweden where vocational tracks in upper secondary school were prolonged from two to three years and the curricula were made more academic. This made students graduating from vocational tracks eligible to apply to university. Our identification strategy takes advantage of cross-regional and cross-time variation in the implementation of a pilot scheme preceding the reform where several municipalities evaluated the policy. The empirical analysis draws on rich population micro data. We find that women who enrolled in the program were significantly less likely to give birth early in life and that this effect is driven by women with higher opportunity costs of childrearing. There is no effect on men’s fertility. The results also suggest that the reform made more able women delay their marriages; although there is no effect on men’s timing.

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Presented in Session 117: Timing of Childbearing and Fertility Transitions: Establishing Cause and Effect