January 2021

IZA DP No. 14040: Academic Careers and Fertility Decisions

We investigate how academic promotions affect the propensity of women to have a child. We use administrative data on the universe of female assistant professors employed in Italian universities from 2001 to 2018. We estimate a model with individual fixed effects and find that promotion to associate professor increases the probability of having a child by 0.6 percentage points, which translates into an increase by 12.5% of the mean. This result is robust to employing a Regression Discontinuity Design in which we exploit the eligibility requirements in terms of research productivity introduced since 2012 by the Italian National Scientific Qualification (NSQ) as an instrument for qualification (and therefore promotion) to associate professor. Our finding provides important policy implications in that reducing uncertainty on career prospects may lead to an increase in fertility.