Fertility After the Drought: Theory and Evidence from Madagascar

CRREP working paper serie 2019-01

55 Pages Posted: 27 Mar 2019

See all articles by Sylvain Dessy

Sylvain Dessy

Université Laval - Département d'Économique

Francesca Marchetta

Université d'Auvergne - Clermont 1 - Centre d'Etudes et de Recherches sur le Developpement International (CERDI)

Roland Pongou

University of Ottawa - Department of Economics

Luca Tiberti

Université Laval

Date Written: February 1, 2019

Abstract

In communities highly dependent on rainfed agriculture for their livelihoods, the common occurrence of climatic shocks such as droughts can lower the opportunity cost of having children, and raise fertility. Using longitudinal household data from Madagascar, we estimate the causal effect of drought occurrences on fertility, and explore the nature of potential mechanisms driving this effect. We exploit exogenous within-district year-to-year variation in rainfall deficits, and find that droughts occurring during the agricultural season significantly increase the number of children born to women living in agrarian communities. This effect is long lasting, as it is not reversed within four years following the drought occurrence. Analyzing the mechanism, we find that droughts have no effect on common underlying factors of high fertility such as marriage timing and child mortality. Furthermore, droughts have no significant effect on fertility if they occur during the non-agricultural season or in non-agrarian communities, and their positive effect in agrarian communities is mitigated by irrigation. These findings provide evidence that a low opportunity cost of having children is the main channel driving the fertility effect of drought in agrarian communities.

Keywords: Climatic Shocks; Droughts; Agricultural Season; Opportunity Cost of Children; Fertility; Irrigation

JEL Classification: C12; C13; C14; J12; J13; O12

Suggested Citation

Dessy, Sylvain and Marchetta, Francesca and Pongou, Roland and Tiberti, Luca, Fertility After the Drought: Theory and Evidence from Madagascar (February 1, 2019). CRREP working paper serie 2019-01. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3345620 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3345620

Sylvain Dessy (Contact Author)

Université Laval - Département d'Économique ( email )

2325 Rue de l'Université
Ste-Foy, Quebec G1K 7P4 G1K 7P4
Canada

Francesca Marchetta

Université d'Auvergne - Clermont 1 - Centre d'Etudes et de Recherches sur le Developpement International (CERDI) ( email )

65 Boulevard Francois Mitterrand
63000 Clermont-Ferrand Cedex 1
France

Roland Pongou

University of Ottawa - Department of Economics ( email )

200 Wilbrod Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1N 6N5
Canada

Luca Tiberti

Université Laval ( email )

2214 Pavillon J-A. DeSeve
Quebec, Quebec G1K 7P4
Canada

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