The Effects of Mortality on Fertility: Population Dynamics after a Natural Disaster

35 Pages Posted: 8 Sep 2014

See all articles by Jenna Nobles

Jenna Nobles

University of Wisconsin - Madison

Elizabeth Frankenberg

Duke University

Duncan Thomas

Duke University

Date Written: September 2014

Abstract

Understanding how mortality and fertility are linked is essential to the study of population dynamics. We investigate the fertility response to an unanticipated mortality shock that resulted from the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, which killed large shares of the residents of some Indonesian communities but caused no deaths in neighboring communities. Using population-representative multilevel longitudinal data, we identify a behavioral fertility response to mortality exposure, both at the level of a couple and in the broader community. We observe a sustained fertility increase at the aggregate level following the tsunami, which is driven by two behavioral responses to mortality exposure. First, mothers who lost one or more children in the disaster are significantly more likely to bear additional children after the tsunami. This response explains about 13 percent of the aggregate increase in fertility. Second, women without children before the tsunami initiated family-building earlier in communities where tsunami-related mortality rates were higher, indicating that the fertility of these women is an important route to rebuilding the population in the aftermath of a mortality shock. Such community-level effects have received little attention in demographic scholarship.

Suggested Citation

Nobles, Jenna and Frankenberg, Elizabeth and Thomas, Duncan, The Effects of Mortality on Fertility: Population Dynamics after a Natural Disaster (September 2014). NBER Working Paper No. w20448, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2492960

Jenna Nobles (Contact Author)

University of Wisconsin - Madison ( email )

716 Langdon Street
Madison, WI 53706-1481
United States

Elizabeth Frankenberg

Duke University ( email )

100 Fuqua Drive
Durham, NC 27708-0204
United States

Duncan Thomas

Duke University ( email )

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