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

  • 2007-2011
  • Project
Lundberg, Mattias, World Bank

Study: “Fertility and Women’s Labor Force Participation in a Low-Income Rural Economy”
PI(s): Lundberg, Mattias
Co-PI(s): Sinha, Nistha; Yoong, Joanne Kannan
Affiliation(s): World Bank
Institutional Partner(s): World Bank
Project Dates:
Start: 2007
End: 2011
Data Source(s): Matlab Panel Data
Methods: Randomized Controlled Trial
Geographic Location(s): Bangladesh

Women’s participation in the labor force is an important driver of poverty reduction, especially in rural areas. Reduced fertility may spur women’s participation in the labor force because less of their time is dedicated to taking care of children. This study examines the impact of fertility and childbearing on the labor force participation in Matlab, Bangladesh. It identifies 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. The program significantly reduced fertility and increased birth spacing, but this research highlights the impact a family planning program could have on women’s lives beyond the direct effects on their fertility-related behavior. Using Matlab survey data of 1,810 individual married women between ages 20-55 from both the treatment and control villages, the researchers found that fertility has little or no impact on overall female employment in this context. 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. This research addresses the issue of potential economic benefits or spillovers of family planning programs in developing countries.

Research Publications:
Lundberg, Mattias, Sinha, Nistha & Yoong, Joanne Kannan. (2010). Fertility and women’s labor force participation in a low-income rural economy.

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