Late Childbearing and Labor Supply Behavior Later in Life

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Barbara A. Butrica and Richard W. Johnson, Urban Institute

Women’s lives have been transformed over the past several decades by increased labor force participation and earnings, as well as delayed marriage and childbearing. Mothers’ average age at first birth has increased significantly over time, along with the proportion of women who remain childless. This paper uses the 1996, 2001, 2004 and 2008 panels of the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) matched to the Social Security Summary Earnings Record (SER) between 1951 and 2013 to examine how the decision to postpone fertility affects labor supply later in life. Using lifetime earnings records and pooling information from SIPP panels allows us to separately distinguish the impact on labor supply of late childbearing and career interruptions.