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Disease and Fertility: Evidence from the 1918 Influenza Pandemic in Sweden

Author

Listed:
  • Boberg-Fazlic, Nina

    (University of Southern Denmark)

  • Ivets, Maryna

    (University of Duisburg-Essen)

  • Karlsson, Martin

    (University of Duisburg-Essen)

  • Nilsson, Therese

    () (Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN))

Abstract

This paper studies the effect of the 1918–19 influenza pandemic on fertility using a historical dataset from Sweden. Our results suggest an immediate reduction in fertility driven by morbidity, and additional behavioral effects driven by mortality. We find some evidence of community rebuilding and replacement fertility, but the net long-term effect is fertility reduction. In districts highly affected by the flu there is also an improvement in parental quality: we observe a relative increase in births to married women and better-off city dwellers. Our findings help understand the link between mortality and fertility, one of the central relations in demography, and show that several factors – including disruptions to marriage and labor markets – contribute to fertility reduction in the long term. Our results are consistent with studies that find a positive fertility response following natural disasters, but with high-quality historical data we show that this effect is short-lived.

Suggested Citation

  • Boberg-Fazlic, Nina & Ivets, Maryna & Karlsson, Martin & Nilsson, Therese, 2017. "Disease and Fertility: Evidence from the 1918 Influenza Pandemic in Sweden," Working Paper Series 1179, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:iuiwop:1179
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    1918–19 influenza pandemic; Influenza and pneumonia mortality; Fertility; Difference-in-Differences;

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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