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Education, Work, and Motherhood: Interrelated Life-Cycle Choices Examined in the United States, Peru, and South Africa

  • 2012-2014
  • Project
Byker, Tanya, University of Michigan

Study: “Education, Work and Motherhood: Interrelated Life-Cycle Choices Examined in the United States, Peru and South Africa”
PI: Byker, Tanya
Affiliation: University of Michigan
Funding Partner: IIE
Project Dates:
Start: 2012
Data Source(s): DHS, Survey of Income and Program Participation, stakeholder interviews, GPS data
Method(s): Event study methodology;
Geographic Location: United States, Peru, South Africa

This research examines the impact of fertility on women’s employment outcomes, especially the effect of fertility timing on labor-force attachment. It analyzes the effects of paid parental leave on birth-related interruptions in women’s labor force participation in the United States, by using monthly data on labor-force participation. The research measures labor force interruptions for women who give birth in states that implement paid parental leave laws–California and New Jersey–to interruptions for women who give birth in states that do not.and finds that paid leave laws may induce women to work more, and by reducing brief exits, enable low-skill women to choose participation patterns around birth that more closely resemble those of more educated women. The work specifically finds that paid leave mandates have little impact on exits that last longer than six months but substantially decrease the occurrence of exits lasting less than six months. This increased attachment to employers may impact accumulated experience and long-term earnings growth.

The research also investigates the fertility and well-being effects of an aggressive family planning policy in Peru in the 1990s. While female sterilization was an official element of the program, anecdotal evidence suggests that health workers were given large sterilization quotas and reportedly used bribes, coercion, and even force to meet them. Details of the program were not public, however, the Peruvian Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) provide evidence of a large increase in sterilizations during the suspected program window. Using a rich set of controls from DHS, the research finds that the aggressive family planning program enacted by President Fujimori in the mid-1990s had a substantial impact on fertility, but small or insignificant impacts on other household outcomes, including mother’s employment, child health, and education.

In addition, this project examines the impact the National Adolescent Friendly Clinic Initiative (NAFCI) had on teen pregnancy in South Africa by eliminating physical and social barriers to reproductive health services. Based on interviews with stakeholders, GPS data that geo-linked women to clinic locations, and information on loveLife facilities, the research looks at the geographic and timing variation of the NAFCI rollout and the separate impact of education and clinic access. The results indicate that living near a NAFCI clinic as an adolescent significantly reduced the likelihood of having a first birth by age 18, and that an education component alone had a smaller and less significant impact on teen pregnancy than the clinical component.

Research Outputs:
Byker, Tanya. (2014). Impact of a Youth-Targeted Reproductive Health Initiative in South Africa. University of Michigan.

Byker, Tanya. (2014). The Role of Paid Parental Leave in Reducing Women’s Career Interruptions: Evidence from Paid Leave Laws in California and New Jersey. University of Michigan.

Byker, Tanya, and Italo A. Gutierrez. 2012. “Fertility and Family Well-being Effects of an Aggressive Family Planning Policy in Peru in the 1990s.” PSC Research Report No. 12-765. July 2012.

Gutierrez, Itaro A. & Byker, Tanya. (2012). Fertility and Family Well-being Effects of an Aggressive Family Planning Policy in Peru in the 1990s (Population Studies Center Research Reports, 12-765).

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