Fertility Decline and Rainfall Variation in Malawi

Monica J. Grant , University of Wisconsin-Madison
Katherine J. Curtis, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Audrey Dorelien, University of Minnesota
Rachel Rosenfeld, University of Wisconsin-Madison

In resource poor settings, many households are dependent on the local environment for their livelihoods. To the extent that studies have connected environmental conditions to fertility outcomes, most have focused on situations of persistent environmental degradation, such as deforestation, biodiversity loss, declining land quality, and land availability. Rainfall variation, however, may have different consequences than persistent environmental degradation. For societies on the cusp of the fertility transition, exposure to rainfall shocks may prompt short-run fertility declines. Increased educational attainment and access to contraception may facilitate this process. However, if these shocks are perceived as becoming more frequent, or rainy seasons are perceived as becoming increasingly less predictable, longer-run disruptions in fertility and family processes may result. We will use data from the IPUMS-DHS for Malawi with integrated rainfall measures to examine how sub-national changes in fertility are associated with rainfall variation over time.

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 Presented in Session 204. Spatial and Contextual Effects on Reproductive Health and Fertility