This paper uses census data to examine the impact of child labor restrictions imposed by compulsory schooling laws and child labor regulation on fertility. By exploiting variation induced by changes in legislation across time and between US states during the early twentieth century, I show that parents chose to have fewer children in response to the constraints imposed on the labor supply of their potential children and the increase in their expected quality. My findings suggest that compulsory schooling laws and child labor regulation contributed to the demographic transition in the US and provide additional empirical support for the notion that financial incentives play a role in determining household fertility decisions.
- Child labor
- Compulsory schooling