The Effect of Natural Disaster on Fertility, Birth Spacing, and Child Sex Ratio: Evidence from a Major Earthquake in India
41 Pages Posted: 21 Jan 2016 Last revised: 7 Nov 2017
Date Written: January 21, 2016
Natural disasters can lead to significant changes in health, economic, and demographic outcomes. However, the demographic effects of earthquakes have been studied only to a limited degree. This paper examines the effect of the 2001 Gujarat earthquake, which killed more than 20,000 people, injured 167,000, and caused massive losses to property and civic assets, on childbearing outcomes. Using data from two large-scale District Level Household Surveys (2002-2004 and 2007-2008), we employ difference-in-difference and fixed-effect regression models to compare the outcomes across earthquake-affected districts and their neighboring districts during five years before and after the earthquake. We find that the earthquake led to significant rises in childbirth probabilities and reductions in birth intervals. In rural areas, it reduced the likelihood of having a male child. We also find considerable variation in the demographic effects of the earthquake across location, household socioeconomic status, and parental age and education.
Keywords: India, fertility, birth spacing, sex ratio, Gujarat earthquake
JEL Classification: J13, J11, J16
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation