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Fertility in a Changing Environment: Climate Change, Migration, and Social Networks

Paper Session

Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020 8:00 AM - 10:00 AM (PST)

Manchester Grand Hyatt, Mission Beach A
Hosted By: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association
  • Chair: Vis Taraz, Smith College

Can Declines in Fertility During Floods Be Explained by Increased Demands on the Farm?

Brian Thiede
,
Pennsylvania State University
Joyce Chen
,
Ohio State University
Valerie Mueller
,
International Food Policy Research Institute
Yuanyuan Jia
,
Ohio State University

Abstract

Projections of sea-level rise and coastal flooding place Bangladesh as one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change by the end of this century. These changes are expected to have widespread consequences, including for population dynamics. We build upon a growing economic demography literature to estimate the effect of flooding on fertility in rural Bangladesh, using satellite-based measures of flooding and vital registration data on the infant population (2003-2011). We additionally perform parallel analyses of the socio-economic effects of flooding to explore whether prevailing labor market opportunities during a flooding episode shape the decision to conceive. We find the odds of having a child under age 1 in a household declines 3 percent when the extent of flooding in a sub-district increases by one standard deviation. There are no differential effects on the sex ratio. Flood-induced declines in fertility coincide with increased labor force participation by men, but maternal health, fetal vulnerability at gestation and/or increased health risks post birth seem to play a larger role. Future research differentiating how climate change affects the opportunity cost of worker’s time versus physiological factors related to human fertility is thus a key component to projecting the future stock of rural workers.

Childhood Migration Effects on Fertility, Evidence from the Mexican Family Life Survey

Katerine Ramirez Nieto
,
Ohio State University

Abstract

In an increasingly migratory, aging, and urbanized world, this study highlights the importance of migration history - even in childhood - to study migration and fertility. The results are relevant for policies that use population size and age distributions to budget for policy services; as well as the understanding of the relationship between female labor market participation with fertility and migration. This article examines the relationship between migration and fertility decisions using the Mexican Family Life Survey. To mitigate concerns about endogeneity, I focus on migration before the age of 12; this is a household rather than individual decision, which limits concerns about the simultaneity of migration and fertility decisions. Additionally, there is little risk of reverse causality because of the time lag between childhood migration and the start of parity; controlling additionally for parental characteristics that may influence migration and later fertility. I find women who migrated in childhood are more likely to have children, and conditional on having children, have more children. Furthermore, women who migrated from rural to urban areas have fewer children than rural-born non-migrants and migrants who move within rural areas. Possible mechanisms include higher education level and less likelihood of marriage upon arrival to urban areas, and more willingness to adapt to labor market opportunities exemplified by more willingness to migrate as adults. Findings suggest that, as migration to cities increases, fertility rates are likely to fall.
JEL Codes: O15, J13, R23
Keywords: Fertility, Mexico, Migration

Curse of the Mummy-ji: The Influence of Mothers-in-Law on Women's Social Networks, Mobility, and Reproductive Health in India

S. Anukriti
,
Boston College
Catalina Herrera-Almanza
,
Northeastern University
Mahesh Karra
,
Boston University
Praveen Pathak
,
University of Delhi

Abstract

Restrictive social norms and strategic constraints imposed by family members can limit women’s access to and benefits from social networks, especially in patrilocal societies. We characterize young married women’s social networks in rural India and analyze how inter-generational power dynamics within the household affect their network formation. Using primary data from Uttar Pradesh, India, we find that co-residence with the mother-in-law restricts her daughter-in-law’s mobility and ability to form social connections outside the household, especially those related to health, fertility, and family planning. These restrictions are mainly motivated by the misalignment of fertility preferences between the mother-in-law and the daughter-in-law. Using an instrumental variables approach, we show that women who have fewer peers outside the household due to co-residence with the mother-in-law are less likely to visit a family planning clinic and to use modern contraception. We find suggestive evidence that these results operate through at least two channels of peer influence: outside peers alter a woman’s beliefs about the social acceptability of family planning (“information channel”) and help her overcome the mobility constraints imposed by her mother-in-law by accompanying her to the clinic (“companionship channel”).
Discussant(s)
Mark Rosenzweig
,
Yale University
JEL Classifications
  • Q0 - General