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Environmental degradation and the demand for children : searching for the vicious circle


  • Filmer, Deon
  • Pritchett, Lant


The authors explore the hypothesis that--because of the important role children play in collection activities (firewood, water, grazing)--the demand forchildren may increase as local environmental resources are depleted, setting up a vicious circle between resource depletion and population growth. Using a large-scale household data set from Pakistan, with detailed information on fertility and the allocation of time to collection activities, they find that: (i) collection activities absorb a substantial part of household resources--firewood collection accounts for 6.2 percent of household expenditures, valued in collection time; (ii) collection absorbs a quarter of the time of children; (iii) women benefit when there are older children in the household; they work 2.6 hours a week less in household activities for each child aged 10 to 15, and 3.2 hours less for each child over 15; and (iv) there seems to be an inverse relationship between fertility and the availability of firewood; even after controlling for other determinants of fertility in reduced form regressions, the authors show that households that live some distance from firewood have more children, whereas households that live where firewood is more expensive have fewer children.

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  • Filmer, Deon & Pritchett, Lant, 1996. "Environmental degradation and the demand for children : searching for the vicious circle," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1623, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1623

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    Cited by:

    1. Seeme Mallick & Naghmana Ghani, 2005. "A Review of the Relationship between Poverty, Population Growth, and Environment," The Pakistan Development Review, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, vol. 44(4), pages 597-614.
    2. Partha Dasgupta, 1998. "The Economics of Poverty in Poor Countries," STICERD - Development Economics Papers - From 2008 this series has been superseded by Economic Organisation and Public Policy Discussion Papers 09, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
    3. Raghbendra Jha & John Whalley, 2001. "The Environmental Regime in Developing Countries," NBER Chapters,in: Behavioral and Distributional Effects of Environmental Policy, pages 217-250 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Dasgupta, Partha, 2000. "Reproductive externalities and fertility behaviour," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(4-6), pages 619-644, May.
    5. Nankhuni, Flora J. & Findeis, Jill L., 2003. "The Effects Of Environmental Degradation On Women'S And Children'S Time Allocation Decisions In Malawi: Impact On Children'S Welfare," 2003 Annual meeting, July 27-30, Montreal, Canada 22117, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    6. A. Markandya, 1998. "Poverty, Income Distribution and Policy Making," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 11(3), pages 459-472, April.
    7. Edmonds, Eric V., 2002. "Government-initiated community resource management and local resource extraction from Nepal's forests," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 89-115, June.
    8. Martínez Mariana, 2003. "La demanda por combustible y el impacto de la contaminación al interior de los hogares sobre la salud: el caso de Guatemala," REVISTA DESARROLLO Y SOCIEDAD, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE, March.


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