Risk and Household Structure: Another Look at the Determinants of Fertility

Claus C. Pörtner, University of Washington

This paper uses unique data on hurricanes in Guatemala to analyze how decisions on fertility and education respond to risks and shocks. Adults from areas with higher levels of risk have more education than those from areas with lower levels of risk, whether their parents owned land or not. Landed households show higher fertility with higher risk, while households without land have lower fertility. The higher fertility for landed households is not explained by higher mortality risk. Shocks affect both fertility and education negatively. If the shocks occur early in a woman's fertile period there is, however, a substantial compensatory effect later in life.

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Presented in Session 90: Demography of Poverty