The Response of Fertility to Rainfall Shocks in Rural Ethiopia: Channels and Differential Responses

Endale Kebede , Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital

The demographic responses of families to short-term macroeconomic shocks provide a proxy measure of living standards in settings where direct measures are not adequately available. Previous studies have examined the response of demographic outcomes to macroeconomic crisis in sub-Sahara African countries at aggregate levels. These macro level studies, however, lack details to understand the channels of responses and the differential responses by socio-economic groups. Here, I have combined individual level longitudinal data with region level rainfall data to analyze the degree and channel of response of fertility to drought in rural Ethiopia. The results showed strong delayed response of fertility to shocks, which evidenced to the absence of planned and deliberate postponement of births-in the face of drought. Instead, Birth timings were adjusted only involuntarily through malnutrition and drought induced temporary separation of spouses. Less educated, large agricultural land holders and poor families responded strongly to drought induced welfare shocks.

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 Presented in Session 121. Population Processes, the Environment, and Energy