Volume 37 - Article 27 | Pages 867–888  

Economic crisis promotes fertility decline in poor areas: Evidence from Colombia

By Eleonora Davalos, Leonardo Fabio Morales


Background: The effects of an economic recession extend beyond financial spheres and spill over into present and future family decisions via income restrictions and expectations. Hardly any research on the effects of economic recession on fertility outcomes has taken place in developing countries.

Objective: This study seeks to explain the effects of economic cycles on fertility outcomes in poor areas.

Methods: This paper analyzes fertility trends from the third largest economy in Latin America – Colombia – from 1998 to 2013. We estimate a panel data regression model with state and year fixed effects.

Results: On average, periods of recession are associated with fertility decline in poor areas and fertility growth in well-off areas. During an economic crisis, fertility in poor states decreases by 0.002 children per woman, while in well-off states fertility increases by 0.007 children per woman.

Conclusions: The impact of an economic crisis on fertility varies depending on poverty. Poor states have procyclical responses while well-off states tend to have countercyclical reactions to economic downturns.

Contribution: This study illuminates the procyclical and countercyclical debate, showing that within a country there can be two different responses to an economic downturn.

Author's Affiliation

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