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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Claus Portner, 2006. "Gone With the Wind? Hurricane Risk, Fertility and Education," Working Papers UWEC-2006-19-R, University of Washington, Department of Economics, revised Feb 2008.
  • Handle: RePEc:udb:wpaper:uwec-2006-19-r

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Xu, Guo, 2011. "Long-run consequences of natural disasters: Evidence from Tangshan," Proceedings of the German Development Economics Conference, Berlin 2011 82, Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics.
    2. Ferreira, Francisco H. G. & Schady, Norbert, 2008. "Aggregate economic shocks, child schooling and child health," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4701, The World Bank.
    3. Thiemo Fetzer & Oliver Pardo & Amar Shanghavi, 2013. "An Urban Legend?! Power Rationing, Fertility and its Effects on Mothers," CEP Discussion Papers dp1247, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    4. Finlay, Jocelyn E., 2009. "Fertility response to natural disasters : the case of three high mortality earthquakes," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4883, The World Bank.
    5. Claus C Pörtner, 2010. "Natural Hazards and Child Health," Working Papers UWEC-2010-03, University of Washington, Department of Economics.
    6. Strobl, Eric, 2012. "The economic growth impact of natural disasters in developing countries: Evidence from hurricane strikes in the Central American and Caribbean regions," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(1), pages 130-141.
    7. Lisa Cameron & Manisha Shah, 2015. "Risk-Taking Behavior in the Wake of Natural Disasters," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 50(2), pages 484-515.
    8. Javier E. Baez & Leonardo Lucchetti & Maria E. Genoni & Mateo Salazar, 2017. "Gone with the Storm: Rainfall Shocks and Household Wellbeing in Guatemala," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 53(8), pages 1253-1271, August.
    9. van den Berg, Marrit, 2010. "Household income strategies and natural disasters: Dynamic livelihoods in rural Nicaragua," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(3), pages 592-602, January.
    10. Burlando, Alfredo, 2014. "Transitory shocks and birth weights: Evidence from a blackout in Zanzibar," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 154-168.
    11. Alfredo Burlando, 2014. "Power Outages, Power Externalities, and Baby Booms," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 51(4), pages 1477-1500, August.
    12. Boberg-Fazlic, Nina & Ivets, Maryna & Karlsson, Martin & Nilsson, Therese, 2017. "Disease and Fertility: Evidence from the 1918 Influenza Pandemic in Sweden," IZA Discussion Papers 10834, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    13. Callen, Michael, 2015. "Catastrophes and time preference: Evidence from the Indian Ocean Earthquake," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 199-214.

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