Education and health and fertility in the United States

A quick glance at a paper by McCrary and Royer.  They find:

1. School entry policies have large effects on schooling at motherhood: one-fourth of young Texas mothers born after the school entry date have a year less education than they otherwise would, had they been born before the entry date. For California, our estimate is one-seventh.

Furthermore, using this variation in education due to the school entry policies, we reach two key conclusions:
1. Education does not significantly impact fertility: women born just before and after the school entry date are equally likely to become mothers and give birth at similar ages.
2. Education has generally small, but possibly heterogeneous, effects on infant health: women born just before and after the entry date give birth to children of similar health, as proxied by birth weight and prematurity. There is some suggestive evidence of different effects of education on low birth weight by race and ethnicity.

Without reading the paper (I was looking for something else) I wonder that economists don’t have better editors and strive for more clarity… here in particular since most likely all the variation in education is at the margin of around 11th grade (some drop out, some do not go on to community college) so the real effect is that, “Another year of education after 11th grade does not affect fertility or infant health, and indeed did anyone really think it would have a big effect?”

About mkevane

Economist at Santa Clara University and Director of Friends of African Village Libraries.
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