The Effect of Severe Natural Disaster on Fertility: Evidence from the 2010 Haiti Earthquake

Julia Behrman, New York University (NYU)
Abigail Weitzman, New York University (NYU)

This paper contributes to the literature on natural disaster and demographic processes by studying the medium-term effect of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti on fertility behaviors and preferences. We use geocoded data from the 2005 and 2012 Haiti Demographic Health Survey, exploiting geographic variation in the intensity of the Haiti earthquake to implement a Difference-in-Difference-in-Difference (DIDID) analytical strategy that compares changes in fertility outcomes over (i) time; (ii) geographical location; (iii) and educational level (a proxy for socioeconomic status). Findings indicate that living in the most severely affected region has a positive effect on current pregnancy and a negative effect on current contraception. Analyses of impact pathways indicate that severe earthquake exposure negatively affects contraceptive access and desired timing to next birth and positively affects desired total fertility. The contraceptive access and desired fertility effects are significantly different for less educated women, with implications for future fertility trends.

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 Presented in Session P6. Migration and Urbanization/Population, Development, and the Environment