Date of Award

August 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Scott Drewianka

Committee Members

Scott Adams, John Heywood, Hamid Mohtadi


My dissertation consists of three essays on the relationship between public policy, women’s education, and birth rates in two very different societies, Iran and the United States. A sharp decline in the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) in Iran over the last three decades has put the country at the risk of an aging population. In the first two chapters, I detail the dimensions of changes in Iran’s TFR, examines some possible determinants, and estimate the impact of the government’s family planning policies on Iranian women’s fertility and marriage. I find that the policies mainly operated through the former channel – especially in rural areas, where the government’s family planning policies account for only 3 percent of the decrease in the marital fertility rate.

In last chapter of dissertation, I use county level data over the years 2005-2017 to test whether easier access to local colleges affects teens’ birth rate. The difference-in-difference method was used to assess associations between availability and affordability of county-level 2-years schools, and teens’ birth rates. Results show that younger teens (15-17) increase their birth rate by opening a new 2-year school, but older teenagers (18-19) postpones their birth decision. Despite their contrary response to the number of schools, teenagers, either younger or older, increase their birth rate if attending a 2-year school is more affordable, with younger teenagers and those living in smaller counites being most sensitive to changes in tuition.