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Gone With the Wind? Hurricane Risk, Fertility and Education

  • Claus Portner

Despite a large literature on fertility and education there has been little research on how these joint decisions are affected by risks and shocks. This paper uses data on hurricanes in Guatemala combined with a household survey to analyse how households' decisions on fertility and investments in education respond to both risk and shocks. The data on hurricanes cover the period 1880 to 1997 and allow for the calculation of hurricane risk by municipality. An increase in risk leads to higher fertility for households with land, while households without land reduce fertility. For both types of households higher risk is associated with higher education but the effect is largest for households without land. Negative shocks lead to decreases in both fertility and education. There is a compensatory effect later in life for fertility, but not for education, indicating that births "lost" to shocks can be made up but lost schooling cannot. The most convincing explanation for these patterns is parents' need for insurance.

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Paper provided by University of Washington, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number UWEC-2006-19-R.

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Date of creation: Oct 2006
Date of revision: Feb 2008
Handle: RePEc:udb:wpaper:uwec-2006-19-r
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  1. Dean Yang & HwaJung Choi, 2005. "Are Remittances Insurance? Evidence from Rainfall Shocks in the Philippines," Working Papers 535, Research Seminar in International Economics, University of Michigan.
  2. Mette Ejrnæs & Claus Chr. Pörtner, 2002. "Birth Order and the Intrahousehold Allocation of Time and Education," CAM Working Papers 2002-09, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics. Centre for Applied Microeconometrics.
  3. Paxson, Christina H, 1992. "Using Weather Variability to Estimate the Response of Savings to Transitory Income in Thailand," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(1), pages 15-33, March.
  4. Stefan Dercon, 1993. "Risk, crop choice and saving: evidence from Tanzania," CSAE Working Paper Series 1993-02, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  5. Mark Rosenzweig & Andrew D. Foster, . "Technical Change and Human Capital Returns and Investments: Evidence from the Green Revolution," Home Pages _065, University of Pennsylvania.
  6. Beegle, Kathleen & Dehejia, Rajeev H. & Gatti, Roberta, 2006. "Child labor and agricultural shocks," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 80-96, October.
  7. Kathleen Beegle & Rajeev Dehejia & Roberta Gatti, 2004. "Why Should We Care About Child Labor? The Education, Labor Market, and Health Consequences of Child Labor," NBER Working Papers 10980, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Burgess, Robin & Stern, Nicholas, 1993. "Taxation and Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 31(2), pages 762-830, June.
  9. Tommy Bengtsson & Martin Dribe, 2006. "Deliberate control in a natural fertility population: Southern Sweden, 1766–1864," Demography, Springer, vol. 43(4), pages 727-746, November.
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