Lithium-ion Batteries and Fertility in Africa

51 Pages Posted: 15 May 2021 Last revised: 22 Feb 2022

Date Written: January 29, 2022


This paper explores the effects of the worldwide adoption of modern lithium-ion electrical batteries on women’s fertility rates. Identification relies on the natural geographic variations of cobalt deposits, an essential mineral for the production of modern electrical batteries, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Different from any other mining activity, cobalt mining primarily uses children to be mined. The use of children in the workforce decreased the opportunity cost of raising a child, altering parental fertility decisions. I find that five years after the boom of worldwide demand for cobalt, women living in cobalt-rich areas had 0.4 more children. Results are robust to assumptions about trends, distance, and endogenous migration and provide novel evidence on
the relationship between child labor and fertility rates in mineral-abundant areas.

Funding Statement: The author declares that the research described in this paper has received no financial support.

Declaration of Interests: None declared.

Keywords: Lithium-ion Batteries, Child Labour, Fertility

JEL Classification: O13, I25, J13

Suggested Citation

Malpede, Maurizio, Lithium-ion Batteries and Fertility in Africa (January 29, 2022). Available at SSRN: or

Maurizio Malpede (Contact Author)

GREEN, Bocconi University ( email )

Via Sarfatti, 25
Milan, MI 20136

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