The media is increasingly recognized as playing an important role in affecting individual behavior. In this paper, we examine the effect of the expansion of commercial television broadcasting on fertility in Indonesia. The results of our district (kabupaten)-level fixed-effects estimation show that increasing the share of the population with access to commercial television by one standard deviation—essentially moving from 78% coverage to universal coverage—reduces the country’s crude birth rate by 6.2%. This is equivalent to a 0.95-point decline in crude birth rate from 15.39 to 14.44 per 1,000 population. Given Indonesia’s 200 million population, the decline is equivalent to around 190,000 fewer births. We also find evidence that television causes an increase in the usage of modern contraceptives, but no change in the proportion of married women using traditional contraception. Therefore, our results show that increasing access to television leads to a behavioral change that results in lower fertility.
Keywords: television, fertility, birth rate, Indonesia
JEL Classifications: D10, J13, L82