Urban Fertility Responses to Local Government Programs: Evidence from the 1923-1932 U.S.

Jonathan Fox, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research

During the 1920s-early 1930s, U.S. fertility declined with large regional variation. Changes in age structure and foreign born populations explain only part of this. Using data for over 50 cities from 1923-1932, we show that local health education programs contributed to the declines. Fixed effects regressions indicate that cities spending in the 75th percentile experienced a 3% faster fertility decline than cities spending in the 25th percentile. The mechanisms may be related to breastfeeding, social insurance incentives or emphasis on a two child home. The results help explain the differing fertility trends, and highlight how public policy may reduce fertility.

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Presented in Session 16: Contextual and Policy Influences on Reproductive Health and Fertility