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Citation Information

Type Journal Article
Title Risk and household structure: another look at the determinants of fertility
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2004
URL http://www.vwl.uni-mannheim.de/brownbag/risk_fertility.pdf
Most households in developing countries face significant income risks but at the same time have very few means of mitigating these risks or responding to shocks. Hence, the households have to rely on self-insurance and coping mechanisms that may be suboptimal in the long run, especially for the poorest households. A household may, for ex-ample, decide to have more children in order to command more labour when replanting is needed after a natural disaster, even though this may mean a very low average consumption and lower educational at-tainment for the children. Despite years of analysing the determi-nants of fertility the effects of income risks on fertility have, however,received little attention. This paper examines the hypothesis that chil-dren can act as imperfect substitutes for insurance, by estimating theeffects of the risks of various natural disasters on fertility and educa-tion using data from Guatemala. The results show that increased riskof disasters that requires command of manpower to handle increasefertility and lower the education of children, while disasters where alarger family is of little use have a negative effect on fertility

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