Education, Marriage, Labor Force Participation and Fertility Decisions of Women

Ricardo Hausmann, Professor of the Practice of Economic Development, Harvard Kennedy School

Women and their choices have huge implications for economic development, yet the mechanisms of causality are still poorly understood. The world is witnessing a dramatic narrowing in the gender gap in education, with greater attainment by women, and increased control over their fertility and marriage preferences. These trends in much of the developing world have implications on women’s economic empowerment, labor participation, productivity, health and ultimately, growth.

Ricardo’s project focuses on the role of education in increasing women’s labor force participation. He is examining the dramatic narrowing in the gender gap in education in specific developing countries such as Brazil, Mexico and others, and how this increased educational attainment by women has increased women’s control over fertility, marriage preferences, labor force participation, and the gender gap in compensation. Utilizing a cross-country, cross-dataset analysis, this project will dig deeper into the causes and effects of this narrowing gender gap in education, as well as understanding why some countries have undergone this transition while others lag behind.

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