In a paper forthcoming in the American Economic Review Papers and Proceedings, Prof. Delia Furtado and coauthor, Heinrich Hock (Mathematica Policy Research), explore the role of immigration in explaining the labor supply and fertility decisions of high-education U.S. native women. The evidence presented in the paper suggests that low-skilled immigration decreases the price of childcare services, making it easier for career-minded women to combine work and family. The authors find that large inflows of immigrants to a city attenuate the negative relationship between female labor force participation and fertility, which translates into an increase in the proportion of women that both work and have a young child in the home.

Relative to women in most other developed countries, American women have very high rates of labor force participation and fertility. This is especially remarkable given how many countries have family leave and subsidy policies that are far more generous than those in the United States. The results in this paper point to immigration as a partial explanation for this phenomenon. Whereas most immigration research focuses on the reduced employment prospects of natives, this paper considers the potential benefits of immigration to high skill native women. Prof. Furtado plans to continue this line of research in future work.

Each May, the AER Papers and Proceedings publishes a sampling of the papers presented at the Annual Meeting of American Economics Association. A working paper version of the article is available here.