The Effect of Fertility on Women’s Labour Supply in West Africa

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Kponou, M. Kenneth C.
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African Economic Research Consortium
This study sought to identify and analyze the effect of childbirth on female labour supply, specifically that of married women with at least one young child under 6 years of age. The number of children is the result of a decision that is endogenous. To take this endogeneity into account, the study used twins as an instrument. Accordingly, we estimated an instrumented Probit model given that female labour supply is measured by two different binary variables. Based on Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) data from five countries (Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal), the study’s key findings are the following: (i) the effect of fertility on female labour supply is not uniform across all the countries considered, and (ii) the relationship between fertility and female labour force participation is sensitive to the measure of participation used to measure it. Based on our findings, we make the following key recommendations: (i) put in place policies to encourage the transition of women from traditional jobs that are quite vulnerable to more formal jobs; and (ii) implement corrective measures so that young children are no longer a penalty for women's access to formal jobs.