What Drives Fertility Recovery After Armed Conflict? A Case Study From the Guatemalan Genocide

Diego Alburez-Gutierrez , Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research

Increases in fertility after armed conflicts are common but it is difficult to determine why or how they happen. This paper focuses on the factors underlying the fertility recovery after an iconic series of massacres in Guatemala. It uses a unique genealogical dataset to reconstruct birth histories of survivors. It shows evidence of a collective fertility response to excess mortality, with pronatalist ideals enforced by relatives. The massacres had ‘scarring’ effects for women – those more exposed to the violence had lower fertility and suffered from social stigma, making it difficult to find a partner and bear children. Male survivors married younger women and women from other communities (who had the highest fertility of all). The killings disrupted the access to modern contraception, but the forced resettlement of the population in a military-run camp increased access to healthcare, education, and employment. There was no evidence of childbirth postponement effects on fertility.

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 Presented in Session 93. Family Planning and Sexual and Reproductive Health in Conflict and Emergency Settings