Family and Economic Development

Paper Session

Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017 10:15 AM – 12:15 PM

Hyatt Regency Chicago, Plaza B
Hosted By: American Economic Association
  • Chair: Tom Vogl, Princeton University

Weather Shocks, Age of Marriage and the Direction of Marriage Payments

Lucia Corno
,
Catholic University of the Sacred Heart-Milan
Nicole Hildebrandt
,
New York University
Alessandra Voena
,
University of Chicago

Abstract

Cultural norms play an important role in influencing economic behavior and can shape households' decisions even in response to the same economic circumstances. For this reason, they may influence economists' ability to extrapolate the empirical findings from natural experiments. This paper examines the effect of local rainfall shocks on female child marriages in sub-Saharan Africa and in India. We show that droughts have similar negative effects on crop yields, but opposite effects on child marriage in the two regions: in Africa, droughts increase the probability of child marriage, while in India droughts decrease such a probability. To explain this outcome, we develop a simple equilibrium model of the marriage market in which income shocks affect the timing of marriage because the transfers that occur at the time of marriage are a source of consumption smoothing, particularly for a woman's family. Exploiting heterogeneity in the marriage payment traditions across countries and ethnic groups, and additional data from Indonesia, we argue that the differential impact of drought on the marriage hazard is explained by differences in the direction of traditional marriage payments in each region, bride price across sub-Saharan Africa and Indonesia and dowry in India.

Helping Children Catch Up: Early Life Shocks and the Progresa Experiment

Achyuta Adhvaryu
,
University of Michigan
Teresa Molina
,
University of Southern California
Anant Nyshadham
,
Boston College
Jorge Tamayo
,
University of Southern California

Abstract

Can investing in children who faced adverse events in early childhood help them catch up? We answer this question using two orthogonal sources of exogenous variation–resource availability at birth (local rainfall) and cash incentives for school enrollment (the Progresa experiment)–to identify an interaction effect between early endowments and childhood investment. We find, in a sample of Mexican children, that adverse rainfall around the time of birth substantially decreases educational attainment. But children whose families were randomized to receive conditional cash transfers through Progresa were able to mitigate about 80 percent of this negative impact.

Growth and Childbearing in the Short- and Long-Run

Shoumitro Chatterjee
,
Princeton University
Tom Vogl
,
Princeton University

Abstract

Despite being key to theories of economic growth and the demographic transition, evidence on how fertility responds to aggregate income change is mixed. We analyze economic growth and fertility change in the developing world over six decades, using data on 2.3 million women from 255 surveys in 81 countries. We find that fertility responds differently to fluctuations and long-run growth, and that the nature of these responses varies over the lifecycle. In the short run, fertility is procyclical, with sharply fewer children conceived during recessions, although part of this response is offset in the subsequent year. In the long run, prime-age and total fertility falls more rapidly in faster-growing economies, although older-age fertility falls more slowly due to the postponement of childbearing. Across cohorts of mothers within a country, growth experienced at prime reproductive age has no relation to lifetime fertility, but growth at older ages leads to higher lifetime fertility. These results are consistent with models linking demography, human capital, and long-run growth, extended to include a lifecycle with liquidity constraints.
Discussant(s)
Erica Field
,
Duke University
Hannes Schwandt
,
University of Zurich
Dean Spears
,
University of Texas
JEL Classifications
  • J1 - Demographic Economics
  • O1 - Economic Development