Rural-urban differential in fertility and maternal work participation: A study in Northwestern Ethiopia

Chalachew Getahun Desta


Background: The inverse relationship between urbanization and fertility is well known in the development literature. However, whether this location difference also translates into rural-urban maternal economic outcomes differential is not well understood. Majority of past research which found inverse relationship between number of young children and maternal economic outcome failed to analyze  rural and urban areas separately.

Data and methods: This paper used data from a household survey of rural and urban married women to analyze if the causal effect of fertility on maternal work participation differs between rural and urban areas.

Findings: Results show that when rural-urban location differences are considered, coefficients are negative for urban households with large number of young children and positive for those households with more adult children; whereas these coefficient signs reversed for rural households.

Conclusion: Results from the quantitative data combined with qualitative narratives suggest that large numbers of young children may not prohibit rural mothers from working.


Maternal work participation; Amhara region of Ethiopia; lifecycle fertility; urbanization and fertility; urbanization and maternal work participation.

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ISSN 2308-7854 (online); ISSN 0850-5780 (print)

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