Motherhood and Apple Pie

Kevin Lewis

March 11, 2011

Mother's Schooling, Fertility, and Children's Education: Evidence from a Natural Experiment

Victor Lavy & Alexander Zablotsky
NBER Working Paper, March 2011

This paper studies the effect of mothers' education on their fertility and their children‘s schooling. We base our evidence on a natural experiment that sharply reduced the cost of attending school and, as a consequence, significantly increased the education of affected cohorts. This natural experiment was the result of the de facto revocation in October 1963 of the military rule that had been imposed on Arabs in Israel, immediately creating free access to institutions of schooling. Military rule, in effect from 1948 to 1966, imposed severe restrictions on movement and travel and therefore disrupted access to schools for residents of localities that had no schools. The change in access to schools affected mainly girls, increasing schooling by 1.02 years for women who were aged 4-8 in 1964 and by 0.58 year for those who were aged 9-13 at the time. These very large effects triggered a sharp decline in completed fertility, measured at 0.61 child for the younger affected cohorts and 0.47 for the older cohorts. Implied 2SLS estimates show that a one-year increase in maternal schooling caused a decline in fertility of 0.5-0.6 child in the younger cohorts. Additional evidence that we present suggests that labor-force participation, age upon marriage, marriage and divorce rates, and spousal labor-force participation and earnings played no role in this fertility decline. However, since spousal education increased sharply through assortative matching, it did play a role in the decline in fertility. These results are robust to checks against various threats to our identification strategy. We also estimate that the increase in mother‘s schooling led to an increase in the education of children, amounting to about one-third of the increase in their mothers‘ schooling.


Teenage pregnancy and motherhood: How might evolutionary theory inform policy?

Sarah Johns, Thomas Dickins & Helen Clegg
Journal of Evolutionary Psychology, March 2011, Pages 3-19

Teenage pregnancy and motherhood are considered to be pressing social concerns and, in the majority of developed countries, are often viewed as problems in need of solutions. While a number of factors are associated with teenage motherhood, the underlying causes remain elusive. Despite a lack of consensus, policy aimed at ‘solving' teenage motherhood is typically based on these proposed proximate correlates; addressing these, rather than the cause. Recent appraisals of this approach suggest that it may not be working effectively, if at all, and policy makers might be in need of some novel approaches. This paper discusses how policy decisions concerning reproductive timing may benefit from the perspective provided by evolutionary life-history theory, and why policy ought to take into account the hypothesis that teenage motherhood is the outcome of an adaptive response of an evolved reproductive strategy to conditions of risk and uncertainty; that having children at an earlier age may promote lineage survival when personal future is uncertain.


If Men Do More Housework, Do Their Wives Have More Babies?

Lyn Craig & Peter Siminski
Social Indicators Research, April 2011, Pages 255-258

We analyze data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey waves 1-6, to investigate whether the housework and childcare contributions of coupled Australian men with one child affect the likelihood that their wives will have a second child. We find no evidence that the way housework or childcare is shared has an effect, nor that the amount of men's contribution to housework or childcare has an effect. In addition, the effect of men's housework and childcare time on fertility does not appear to be mediated through its effect on their wives' housework and childcare.


Age at first reproduction and probability of reproductive failure in women

Jianghua Liu & Virpi Lummaa
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Life history theory predicts a trade-off between fitness benefits and costs of delaying age at first reproduction (AFR). In many human populations, maternal AFR has been increasingly delayed beyond sexual maturity over the past decades, raising a question of whether any fitness benefits accrued outweigh costs incurred. To investigate the cost-benefit trade-off concerning AFR in women, we construct a theoretical model and test its predictions using pedigree data from historical Finnish mothers. The model predicts that the probability of reproductive failure (no offspring produced reaching breeding) will increase with AFR if the benefit with delaying in terms of improvement to offspring quality (i.e., breeding probability) cannot offset the cost from decline in offspring quantity. The data show that offspring quantity declined significantly with delayed reproduction, while offspring quality remained initially constant before declining when AFR was delayed beyond 30. Consistent with the theoretical model's predictions, reproductive failure probability increased markedly with delaying AFR after 30, independently of maternal socioeconomic status. Our study is the first to investigate the associations between delay in AFR after sexual maturity and changes in not only offspring quantity but also offspring quality and suggest a significant evolutionary disadvantage of delayed AFR beyond 30 for lineage persistence in a predemographic transition society.


The Effects of Maternity Leave on Children's Birth and Infant Health Outcomes in the United States

Maya Rossin
Journal of Health Economics, forthcoming

This paper evaluates the impacts of unpaid maternity leave provisions of the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) on children's birth and infant health outcomes in the United States. My identification strategy uses variation in pre-FMLA maternity leave policies across states and variation in which firms are covered by FMLA provisions. Using Vital Statistics data and difference-in-difference-in-difference methodology, I find that maternity leave led to small increases in birth weight, decreases in the likelihood of a premature birth, and substantial decreases in infant mortality for children of college-educated and married mothers, who were most able to take advantage of unpaid leave. My results are robust to the inclusion of numerous controls for maternal, child, and county characteristics, state and year fixed effects, and state-year interactions, as well as across several different specifications.


Induced First-Trimester Abortion and Risk of Mental Disorder

Trine Munk-Olsen et al.
New England Journal of Medicine, 27 January 2011, Pages 332-339

Background: Concern has been expressed about potential harm to women's mental health in association with having an induced abortion, but it remains unclear whether induced abortion is associated with an increased risk of subsequent psychiatric problems.

Methods: We conducted a population-based cohort study that involved linking information from the Danish Civil Registration system to the Danish Psychiatric Central Register and the Danish National Register of Patients. The information consisted of data for girls and women with no record of mental disorders during the 1995-2007 period who had a first-trimester induced abortion or a first childbirth during that period. We estimated the rates of first-time psychiatric contact (an inpatient admission or outpatient visit) for any type of mental disorder within the 12 months after the abortion or childbirth as compared with the 9-month period preceding the event.

Results: The incidence rates of first psychiatric contact per 1000 person-years among girls and women who had a first abortion were 14.6 (95% confidence interval [CI], 13.7 to 15.6) before abortion and 15.2 (95% CI, 14.4 to 16.1) after abortion. The corresponding rates among girls and women who had a first childbirth were 3.9 (95% CI, 3.7 to 4.2) before delivery and 6.7 (95% CI, 6.4 to 7.0) post partum. The relative risk of a psychiatric contact did not differ significantly after abortion as compared with before abortion (P=0.19) but did increase after childbirth as compared with before childbirth (P<0.001).

Conclusions: The finding that the incidence rate of psychiatric contact was similar before and after a first-trimester abortion does not support the hypothesis that there is an increased risk of mental disorders after a first-trimester induced abortion.


Safe, Legal, Rare...and Early: Gender and the Politics of Abortion

L.J. Zigerell & David Barker
Journal of Elections, Public Opinion & Parties, February 2011, Pages 83-96

Much social science research suggests that men and women have similar abortion policy preferences. But this inference may be incorrect because studies have focused on understanding preferences regarding the reasons women may seek abortions, while neglecting preferences as they pertain to the timing of abortions. Analysis of responses to a team module of the 2006 Cooperative Congressional Election Study indicated that women in the sample were more likely than men to support legal abortion for any reason, but they were also more likely than men to restrict that support to the first trimester for non-elective abortions. This elective-but-early policy captured the preferences of a large number of respondents, suggesting that politicians and researchers should account for the timing dimension of the abortion issue.


Adolescents of the US National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study: The impact of having a known or an unknown donor on the stability of psychological adjustment

H.M.W. Bos & N.K. Gartrell
Human Reproduction, March 2011, Pages 630-637

Background: The current study is based on the US National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study (NLLFS), which was designed to document the development of the first generation of lesbian families with children conceived through donor insemination. Data were collected in five waves, first at insemination or during pregnancy, and subsequently when the index children were 2, 5, 10 and 17 years old. The study is ongoing, with a 93% retention rate to date. The purpose of the current investigation was to assess changes in psychological adjustment of the index offspring between the time that they were 10 and 17 years old (T4 and T5) and to examine the effects of having a known or an as-yet-unknown donor.

Methods: The total T5 sample consisted of 78 adolescents. The mothers in 74 families completed a Child Behaviour Checklist (CBCL) on their offspring at both T4 and T5: 26 of these offspring had been conceived through known sperm donors and 48 through unknown donors. Changes in psychological adjustment were assessed through computations of stability coefficients between T4 and T5 on all CBCL subscales, and by means of a general linear model (GLM).

Results: On 10 out of 11 CBCL subscales, the stability coefficients were not significantly different for adolescents with known and unknown donors. Findings from the GLM showed that no main effect for donor type was found; for offspring in both donor groups thought problems and rule-breaking behaviour were higher and scores on social problems and aggressive behaviour were lower at T5 than T4.

Conclusions: The development of psychological well-being in the offspring of lesbian mothers over a 7-year period from childhood through adolescence is the same for those who were conceived through known and unknown donors.


"There is Such a Thing as Too Many Daughters, but Not Too Many Sons": A Qualitative Study of Son Preference and Fetal Sex Selection Among Indian Immigrants in the United States

Sunita Puri, Vincanne Adams, Susan Ivey & Robert Nachtigall
Social Science & Medicine, forthcoming

In response to concerns from feminists, demographers, bioethicists, journalists, and health care professionals, the Indian government passed legislation in 1994 and 2003 prohibiting the use of sex selection technology and sex selective abortion. In contrast, South Asian families immigrating to the United States find themselves in an environment where reproductive choice is protected by law and technologies enabling sex selection are readily available. Yet there has been little research exploring immigrant Indian women's narratives about the pressure they face to have sons, the process of deciding to utilize sex selection technologies, and the physical and emotional health implications of both son preference and sex selection. We undertook semi-structured, in-depth interviews with 65 immigrant Indian women in the United States who had pursued fetal sex selection on the East and West coasts of the United States between September 2004 and December 2009. Women spoke of son preference and sex selection as separate though intimately related phenomena, and the major themes that arose during interviews included the sociocultural roots of son preference; women's early socialization around the importance of sons; the different forms of pressure to have sons that women experienced from female in-laws and husbands; the spectrum of verbal and physical abuse that women faced when they did not have male children and/or when they found out they were carrying a female fetus; and the ambivalence with which women regarded their own experience of reproductive "choice." We found that 40% of the women interviewed had terminated prior pregnancies with female fetuses and that 89% of women carrying female fetuses in their current pregnancy pursued an abortion. These narratives highlight the interaction between medical technology and the perpetuation of this specific form of violence against women in an immigrant context where women are both the assumed beneficiaries of reproductive choice while remaining highly vulnerable to family violence and reproductive coercion.


Near-term fetuses process temporal features of speech

Carolyn Granier-Deferre et al.
Developmental Science, March 2011, Pages 336-352

The perception of speech and music requires processing of variations in spectra and amplitude over different time intervals. Near-term fetuses can discriminate acoustic features, such as frequencies and spectra, but whether they can process complex auditory streams, such as speech sequences and more specifically their temporal variations, fast or relatively slow acoustic variations, is unclear. We recorded the cardiac activity of 82 near-term fetuses (38 weeks GA) in quiet sleep during a silent control condition and four 15 s streams presented at 90 dB SPL Leq: two piano melodies with opposite contours, a natural Icelandic sentence and a chimera of the sentence - all its spectral information was replaced with broadband noise, leaving its specific temporal variations in amplitude intact without any phonological information. All stimuli elicited a heart rate deceleration. The response patterns to the melodies were the same and differed significantly from those observed with the Icelandic sentence and its chimera, which did not differ. The melodies elicited a monophasic heart rate deceleration, indicating a stimulus orienting reflex while the Icelandic and its chimera evoked a sustained lower magnitude response, indicating a sustained attentional response or more focused information processing. A conservative interpretation of the data is that near-term fetuses can perceive sound streams and the rapid temporal variations in amplitude that are specific to speech sounds with no spectral variations at all.


Analyzing the Effect of Anti-Abortion U.S. State Legislation in the Post-Casey Era

Michael New
State Politics & Policy Quarterly, March 2011, Pages 28-47

Much of the academic literature that analyzes U.S. state-level restrictions on abortion focuses on parental involvement laws and the extent to which abortion is publicly funded through Medicaid. However, one shortcoming common to all of these studies is that they fail to analyze informed consent laws and other types of anti-abortion legislation that received constitutional protection through the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey (1992). In this study, a series of regressions on a comprehensive time series cross-sectional data set provides evidence that several types of state-level anti-abortion legislation result in statistically significant declines in both the abortion rate and the abortion ratio. Furthermore, a series of natural experiments provide further evidence that abortion restrictions are correlated with reductions in the incidence of abortion.


The Effects of Maternal Employment on the Health of School-Age Children

Melinda Sandler Morrill
Journal of Health Economics, forthcoming

The effects of maternal employment on children's health are theoretically ambiguous and challenging to identify. There are trade-offs between income and time, and a mother's decision to work reflects, in part, her children's health and her underlying preferences. I utilize exogenous variation in each child's youngest sibling's eligibility for kindergarten as an instrument. Using the restricted-access National Health Interview Survey (1985-2004), I identify the effects on overnight hospitalizations, asthma episodes, and injuries/poisonings for children ages seven to seventeen. Employment increases the probability of each adverse health event by nearly 200 percent. These effects are robust and do not reflect a non-representative local effect.


Do Children's Behavior Problems Limit Poor Women's Labor Market Success?

Rebekah Levine Coley, David Ribar & Elizabeth Votruba-Drzal
Journal of Marriage and Family, February 2011, Pages 33-45

Economically disadvantaged mothers face numerous barriers to stable, quality employment opportunities. One barrier that has received limited attention in previous research is having a child with significant psychological or behavioral problems. Using a representative sample of low-income mothers and early adolescent children from the Three-City Study (N = 717), we assessed whether adolescents' behavior problems prospectively predicted mothers' employment status, consistency, and quality. Lagged random-effects regression models suggested that adolescents' psychological distress and delinquency inhibited the labor market success of disadvantaged mothers, although school problems were related to greater work effort among mothers. Links between labor market success and both psychological distress and delinquency differed across mothers with male and female adolescents.


Adolescent Pregnancy Desire and Pregnancy Incidence

Heather Sipsma et al.
Women's Health Issues, March 2011, Pages 110-116

Background: Research has suggested the importance of pregnancy desire in explaining pregnancy risk behavior among adolescent females. Much of the literature, however, uses cross-sectional study designs to examine this relationship. Because bias may strongly influence these results, more prospective studies are needed to confirm the relationship between pregnancy desire and pregnancy incidence over time.

Methods: Nonpregnant adolescents aged 14- to 19 years (n = 208) completed baseline interviews and interviews every 6 months thereafter for 18 months. Logistic regression was used to examine demographic and psychosocial correlates of pregnancy desire. Cox regression analysis was used to determine whether pregnancy desire predicted pregnancy incidence over time after controlling for potential confounders.

Results: Twenty-four percent of participants either desired pregnancy or were ambivalent toward pregnancy in the next year. Pregnancy desire was associated with older age, relationship duration of <6 months, and greater perceived stress. After accounting for potential confounders, pregnancy desire doubled the risk of becoming pregnant over the 18-month follow-up period (relative risk, 2.00; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.99-4.02). Additionally, a heightened risk for pregnancy was found among those who expressed some desire for pregnancy and who were not in school compared with those who expressed no desire for pregnancy and who were in school (relative risk, 4.84; 95% CI, 1.21-19.31).

Conclusion: Our analysis reinforces the importance of evaluating pregnancy desire among sexually active adolescent females. Interventions should target young women in new romantic relationships and who are not in school to improve pregnancy prevention efforts. Additionally, improving coping abilities may help to reduce feelings of pregnancy desire among adolescent females.


Recent Changes in the Trends of Teen Birth Rates, 1981-2006

Phyllis Wingo et al.
Journal of Adolescent Health, March 2011, Pages 281-288

Purpose: To explore trends in teen birth rates by selected demographics.

Methods: We used birth certificate data and joinpoint regression to examine trends in teen birth rates by age (10-14, 15-17, and 18-19 years) and race during 1981-2006 and by age and Hispanic origin during 1990-2006. Joinpoint analysis describes changing trends over successive segments of time and uses annual percentage change (APC) to express the amount of increase or decrease within each segment.

Results: For teens younger than 18 years, the decline in birth rates began in 1994 and ended in 2003 (APC: -8.03% per year for ages 10-14 years; APC: -5.63% per year for ages 15-17 years). The downward trend for 18- and 19-year-old teens began earlier (1991) and ended 1 year later (2004) (APC: -2.37% per year). For each study population, the trend was approximately level during the most recent time segment, except for continuing declines for 18- and 19-year-old white and Asian/Pacific Islander teens. The only increasing trend in the most recent time segment was for 18- and 19-year-old Hispanic teens. During these declines, the age distribution of teens who gave birth shifted to slightly older ages, and the percentage whose current birth was at least their second birth decreased.

Conclusions: Teen birth rates were generally level during 2003/2004-2006 after the long-term declines. Rates increased among older Hispanic teens. These results indicate a need for renewed attention to effective teen pregnancy prevention programs in specific populations.


Producing adulthood: Adolescent employment, fertility, and the life course

Emily Rauscher
Social Science Research, March 2011, Pages 552-571

Adolescent employment is typically framed as having either positive or negative effects. Yet cutting edge research yields apparently contradictory results; work lowers delinquency but also increases school dropout. Both opportunity cost and life course development theories could explain these results. This study investigates effects of employment on fertility among adolescent women, which pits life course development against opportunity cost theory. Using 2006 and 2007 American Community Surveys, individual instrumental variable and state-level difference-in-difference models (following the same cohort over time) control for self-selection and find a positive effect of employment on adolescent fertility. National Vital Statistics birth data confirm state-level results. Results for fertility (and some evidence for other early transitions) indicate that youth employment speeds the transition to adulthood, supporting life course theory. Findings suggest adolescent employment should be reconceived as promoting adult rather than positive or negative behavior.


Does teenage childbearing reduce investment in human capital?

Dinand Webbink, Nicholas Martin & Peter Visscher
Journal of Population Economics, April 2011, Pages 701-730

This paper estimates the causal effect of teenage childbearing on educational attainment using two cohorts of Australian twins and their relatives. Our main finding is that the negative effect of teenage childbearing on educational attainment appears to be small. We find no difference in educational attainment between teen mothers and their identical twin sisters. Data on the relatives of the twins enable us to compare a teen mother with both her twin sister and her other sibling sisters. When twin sisters are used as a control group instead of sibling sisters, the estimated difference in educational attainment is much smaller.


Associations of Low-Income Working Mothers' Daily Interactions With Supervisors and Mother-Child Interactions

Anna Gassman-Pines
Journal of Marriage and Family, February 2011, Pages 67-76

This study investigated associations of low-income working mothers' daily interactions with supervisors and their interactions with children. Sixty-one mothers of preschool-aged children were asked to report on their interactions with their supervisors at work and their interactions with children for 2 weeks (N = 520 workdays). Results show significant within-day spillover from the quality of mothers' perceived work interactions with supervisors to their reports of interactions with children. Supervisor criticism was positively correlated with harsh and withdrawn mother-child interactions on the same day. Supervisor recognition for good work was positively associated with warm mother-child interactions on the same day. Lagged analyses showed some significant associations between perceived supervisor interactions on a given day and mother-child interactions the next day.


Getting a job is only half the battle: Maternal job loss and child classroom behavior in low-income families

Heather Hill, Pamela Morris, Nina Castells & Jessica Thornton Walker
Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Spring 2011, Pages 310-333

This study uses data from an experimental employment program and instrumental variables (IV) estimation to examine the effects of maternal job loss on child classroom behavior. Random assignment to the treatment at one of three program sites is an exogenous predictor of employment patterns. Cross-site variation in treatment-control differences is used to identify the effects of employment levels and transitions. Under certain assumptions, this method controls for unobserved correlates of job loss and child well-being, as well as measurement error and simultaneity. IV estimates suggest that maternal job loss sharply increases problem behavior but has neutral effects on positive social behavior. Current employment programs concentrate primarily on job entry, but these findings point to the importance of promoting job stability for workers and their children.


Grandparental Child Care in Europe: Evidence for Preferential Investment in More Certain Kin

Mirkka Danielsbacka et al.
Evolutionary Psychology, January 2011, Pages 3-24

Theories of kin selection and parental investment predict stronger investment in children and grandchildren by women and maternal kin. Due to paternity uncertainty, parental and grandparental investments along paternal lineages are based on less certain genetic relatedness with the children and grandchildren. Additionally, the hypothesis of preferential investment (Laham, Gonsalkorale, and von Hippel, 2005) predicts investment to vary according to available investment options. Two previous studies have tested this hypothesis with small samples and conflicting results. Using the second wave of the large and multinational Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), collected in 2006-07, we study the preferential investment hypothesis in contemporary Europe based on self-reported grandparental provision of child care. We predict that 1) maternal grandmothers provide most care for their grandchildren, followed by maternal grandfathers, paternal grandmothers and last by paternal grandfathers; 2) maternal grandfathers and paternal grandmothers provide equal amounts of care when the latter do not have grandchildren via a daughter; 3) women who have grandchildren via both a daughter and a son will look after the children of the daughter more; and 4) men who have grandchildren via both a daughter and a son will look after the children of the daughter more. Results support all four hypotheses and provide evidence for the continuing effects of paternity uncertainty in contemporary kin behavior.

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