Disease and Fertility: Evidence from the 1918 Influenza Pandemic in Sweden

63 Pages Posted: 19 Jun 2017

See all articles by Nina Boberg-Fazlic

Nina Boberg-Fazlic

University of Copenhagen - Department of Economics

Maryna Ivets

University of Duisburg-Essen

Martin Karlsson

University of Duisburg-Essen

Therese Nilsson

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN); Lund University - Department of Economics

Abstract

This paper studies the effect of the 1918–19 influenza pandemic on fertility using a historical dataset from Sweden. Our results suggest an immediate reduction in fertility driven by morbidity, and additional behavioral effects driven by mortality. We find some evidence of community rebuilding and replacement fertility, but the net long-term effect is fertility reduction. In districts highly affected by the flu there is also an improvement in parental quality: we observe a relative increase in births to married women and better-off city dwellers.Our findings help understand the link between mortality and fertility, one of the central relations in demography, and show that several factors – including disruptions to marriage and labor markets – contribute to fertility reduction in the long term. Our results are consistent with studies that find a positive fertility response following natural disasters, but with high-quality historical data we show that this effect is short-lived.

Keywords: 1918–19 influenza pandemic, influenza and pneumonia mortality, fertility, difference-in-differences

JEL Classification: I12, J11, J13

Suggested Citation

Boberg-Fazlic, Nina and Ivets, Maryna and Karlsson, Martin and Nilsson, Therese, Disease and Fertility: Evidence from the 1918 Influenza Pandemic in Sweden. IZA Discussion Paper No. 10834, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2988181

Nina Boberg-Fazlic (Contact Author)

University of Copenhagen - Department of Economics ( email )

Øster Farimagsgade 5
Bygning 26
1353 Copenhagen K.
Denmark

Maryna Ivets

University of Duisburg-Essen

Lotharstrasse 1
Duisburg, 47048
Germany

Martin Karlsson

University of Duisburg-Essen ( email )

Therese Nilsson

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) ( email )

Box 55665
Grevgatan 34, 2nd floor
Stockholm, SE-102 15
Sweden

Lund University - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7082
S-220 07 Lund
Sweden
+46 46 222 46 43 (Phone)

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