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Fertility Following Natural Disasters and Epidemics in Africa
Authors: Johannes Norling
Source: World Bank Economic Review, Volume 36, Issue 4; DOI:
Topic(s): Environment and natural resources
Country: Africa
  Multiple African Countries
Published: NOV 2022
Abstract: This paper uses dozens of large-scale household surveys to measure average changes in fertility following hundreds of droughts, floods, earthquakes, tropical cyclones, other storms, and epidemics in Africa between 1980 and 2016. Droughts are the largest and longest-lasting type of disaster on average, and fertility decreases by between 3.5 and 6.8 percent in the five years after droughts. Fertility changes are smaller or less clear after other types of disasters. Comparisons between countries, rather than within countries, drive these findings. There is substantial geographic heterogeneity in the direction and magnitude of the changes in fertility after disasters, driven by characteristics of the disasters and survey respondents. Fertility decreases especially after more recent droughts and in areas prone to drought. Fertility also decreases after longer floods. Fertility decreases after epidemics for women near the start and end of their childbearing careers, but increases for women in their late twenties and early thirties.