Fertility and Women’s Labor Force Participation in a Low-Income Rural Economy

Last updated December 2010

Mattias Lundberg, Nistha Sinha, Joanne Yoong

This study examines the impact of fertility and childbearing on the labor force participation of women in rural Bangladesh. Since fertility is endogenous to other decisions made by the family, we separately identify the impact of changes in fertility on changes in work by taking advantage of a family planning program selectively introduced in the subdistrict of Matlab, Bangladesh. The Matlab family planning program significantly reduced fertility and increased birth spacing. We find that in this setting, fertility has little or no impact on overall female employment. However, women with longer gaps between births are more likely to be employed in paid work and less likely to be employed in unpaid work.
Contact Information:
Mattias Lundberg, mlundberg@worldbank.org; Joanne Yoong, jyoong@rand.org, The World Bank