Family Units

Kevin Lewis

November 29, 2020

Mothers' and Fathers' Well‐Being: Does the Gender Composition of Children Matter?
Daniela Negraia, Jill Yavorsky & Denys Dukhovnov
Journal of Marriage and Family, forthcoming

Method: The study assessed parental well‐being during time spent with children, across four measures of subjective well‐being (N = 16,140 activities, 8,621 parents), pooled across three survey waves (2010, 2012, and 2013) from the American Time Use Survey Well‐being Module. Random intercept models were used to account for the multilevel structure of the data.

Results: For both mothers and fathers, gender composition of children was not associated with different levels of happiness or meaning while parenting. However, fathers reported greater stress parenting all girls and mixed‐gender children (i.e., girl/s and boy/s at the same time) compared to parenting all boys. Mothers reported greater fatigue and stress parenting all girls, compared to parenting all boys. Controlling for activity type explained some of the stress patterns.

Safer Sex? The Effect of AIDS Risk on Birth Rates
Melissa Spencer
University of Virginia Working Paper, November 2020


The emergence of AIDS in the 1980s dramatically increased the cost of contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Prior research shows that people responded to the AIDS epidemic by switching to sexual behaviors and contraceptive methods with lower likelihood of AIDS transmission. These behavioral adjustments also affect the likelihood of pregnancy and the incidence of other STIs. This paper provides the first evidence that the AIDS epidemic in the United States increased the birth rate and the abortion rate, and decreased the gonorrhea rate. I show that births among adult women increased on average by 0.5 births per 1,000 women per year, for a total of 330,000 additional births between 1981 and 2001 due to AIDS avoidance behaviors. My analysis suggests that the overall estimates are driven by women who avoid AIDS by shifting to monogamous relationships.

Paid Maternity Leave and Women’s Human Capital: Evidence from California
Natalia Ordaz Reynoso
University of Minnesota Working Paper, November 2020


I test whether the implementation of the California Paid Family Leave Act increased young women’s human capital investment, specifically college enrollment. Using a synthetic control approach, I estimate that the policy increased the probability that women enroll in college by about 2 percentage points. This effect is statistically significant at the 5% level and persists for at least several years. I present a simple human capital model of women’s schooling choices that characterizes these results as the effect of an expected decrease in the effects of motherhood on labor supply. Finally, I present evidence from survey data and Internet searches that provides support to the hypothesized mechanism: women are more likely to enroll in college because they expect that the policy will increase their future labor supply.

The Role of College Sex Ratios on Marriage and Earnings
Jiapei Guo
Northeastern University Working Paper, October 2020


In a dramatic reversal from the recent past decades more women than men now attend colleges in the U.S. and around the world. The sex ratio is an important indicator with many implications for the marriage market. College campus provides a unique setting of the dating market with a larger variation of imbalanced sex ratios than any other settings in the existing literature. This paper uses the variation of male-to-female ratios in four-year higher education institutions in the US to study the effect of sex ratios on young students’ future outcomes in marriage, earnings, and spouse’s earnings. Specifically, the setting’s large variation allows me to apply a nonlinear empirical model showing that the magnitude of the effect decays with a further increase of sex ratios, which can be theoretically verified by Becker’s model of the marriage market. Two very comprehensive college-level datasets on students’ future outcomes and college characteristics are combined such that a rich set of college-level variables are controlled to address the potential bias that certain types of students may sort into colleges with characteristics that also correlated with the sex ratio. Broadly consistent with the theoretical prediction this study finds that the increase of sex ratios has significant positive effects on women’s marriage rates and their spouse’s earnings, but a trivial negative effect on their own earnings. Higher sex ratios also appear to have increased men’s future earnings after graduation. More interestingly, by interacting a few indicators of a potential stronger dating market, this study finds that the effect of sex ratios on marriage rates appears to be greater in younger campuses where the vast majority of students aged 25 or below.

Out of Labor and Into the Labor Force? The Role of Abortion Access, Social Stigma, and Financial Constraints
Nina Brooks & Tom Zohar
Stanford Working Paper, November 2020


This paper studies the effects of abortion access on fertility and women’s career outcomes. To establish causality, we leverage a policy change that increased the eligibility age cutoff for free abortion in Israel in 2014. We use newly constructed administrative data that allows us to track abortions, births, employment, earnings, and formal education for the universe of Israeli women over a seven-year period. We show that access to free abortion increases the abortion rate but does not increase conceptions. Instead, the result is driven by more abortions among poor women who live in religious communities where abortion is socially stigmatized. This finding suggests that when abortion is free, poor women do not need to consult family members for financial support, which allows them to have an abortion in private. In the medium-run, access to free abortion delays parenthood, increases human capital investment, and shifts employment towards the white-collar sector, suggesting a large career opportunity cost of unplanned parenthood. Finally, we show that if the government’s objective is to remove financial constraints to abortion access, means-tested funding does a better job than the existing age-based policy.

Undue Burden Beyond Texas: An Analysis of Abortion Clinic Closures, Births, and Abortions in Wisconsin
Joanna Venator & Jason Fletcher
Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, forthcoming


In this paper, we estimate the impacts of abortion clinic closures on access to clinics in terms of distance and congestion, abortion rates, and birth rates. Between 2010 and 2017, Wisconsin passed three laws regulating abortion providers and two of five abortion clinics closed in Wisconsin, increasing the distance to the nearest clinic to 55 miles on average and to over 100 miles in the most affected counties. We use a difference‐in‐differences design to estimate the effect of changes in travel distance on births and abortions, using within‐county variation across time in distance to identify the effect. We find that a 100‐mile increase in distance to the nearest clinic is associated with 30.7 percent fewer abortions and 3.2 percent more births. We see no significant effect of increased congestion at remaining clinics on abortion rates. Interacting the legislative changes with distance, we find that the effects of distance on abortion are approximately 1.33 times stronger in the presence of a mandatory 24‐hour waiting period. Our results suggest that even small numbers of clinic closures can result in significant restrictions to abortion access of similar magnitude to those seen in Texas where a greater number of clinics ceased operations.

Does the Marriage Tax Differential Influence Same‐Sex Couples' Marriage Decisions?
Christine Cheng et al.
Journal of Marriage and Family, forthcoming

Objective: This article evaluates whether the federal marriage tax penalty (penalty) or federal marriage bonus (bonus) affects the marriage decisions of same‐sex couples (SSCs).

Method: To examine the penalty or bonus influence, a difference‐in‐differences regression compares how the 2013 federal recognition of SSM (which imposes the penalty on SSCs) influenced the marriage–penalty and marriage–bonus relation for SSCs. We obtain household level data for 2012–2016 from American Community Survey's Public Use Microdata Sample and use the National Bureau of Economic Research tax simulation model to estimate each household's penalty or bonus.

Results: Our evidence indicates that the penalty is negatively related to SSCs' marriage decisions only after 2013. Overall, a 1% increase in the penalty as a percentage of household income reduces the odds of marriage by up to 6.41%. In contrast, we do not find consistent evidence that the bonus effectively encourages marriage.

Human neonates prefer colostrum to mature milk: Evidence for an olfactory bias toward the “initial milk”?
Magali Klaey‐Tassone et al.
American Journal of Human Biology, forthcoming

Methods: The head‐orientation of waking newborns was videotaped in three experiments pairing the odors of: (a) colostrum (sampled on postpartum day 2, not from own mother) and mature milk (sampled on average on postpartum day 32, not from own mother) (n tested newborns = 15); (b) Colostrum and control (water; n = 9); and (c) Mature milk and control (n = 13).

Results: When facing the odors of colostrum and mature milk, the infants turned their nose significantly longer toward former (32.8 vs 17.7% of a 120‐s test). When exposed to colostrum against the control, they responded in favor of colostrum (32.9 vs 16.6%). Finally, when the odor of mature milk was presented against the control, their response appeared undifferentiated (26.7 vs 28.6%).


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