April 2016

IZA DP No. 9905: Cutting Fertility? The Effect of Cesarean Deliveries on Subsequent Fertility and Maternal Labor Supply

The incidence of Cesarean deliveries (CDs) has been on the rise. The procedure's cost and benefits are discussed controversially; in particular, since non-medically indicated cases seem widespread. We study the effect of CDs on subsequent fertility and maternal labor supply. Identification is achieved by exploiting variation in the supply-side's incentives to induce non-medically indicated CDs across weekdays. On weekends and public holidays obstetricians' are less likely to induce CDs (due tighter capacity constraints in hospital). On Fridays and other days preceding a holiday, they face an increased incentive to induce CDs (due to their demand for leisure on non-working days). We use high-quality administrative data from Austria. Women giving birth on different weekdays are pre-treatment observationally identical. Our instrumental variable estimates show that a non-planned CD at parity one decreases life cycle fertility by almost 17 percent. This reduction in fertility translates into a temporary increase in maternal employment.