Department of Economics

The Impact of Malaria Eradication on Fertility

Department of Economics
University of Delaware
Working Paper #2011-20

The Impact of Malaria Eradication on Fertility

Adrienne M. Lucas

ABSTRACT

The malaria eradication campaign that started in Sri Lanka in the late 1940s virtually eliminated malaria transmission on the island. I use the pre-eradication differences in malaria endemicity within Sri Lanka to identify the effect of malaria eradication on fertility and child survival. Malaria eradication increased the number of live births through increasing age specific fertility and causing an earlier first birth. The effect of malaria on the transition time to higher order births is inconclusive. Malaria could directly or indirectly affect survival probabilities of live births. I exploit the particular epidemiology of malaria that causes more severe sequelae during an initial pregnancy. I find differential changes in survival probabilities by birth order that are most likely due to the direct in utero effects of malaria. The increase in population growth after malaria eradication reconciles the contradictory findings in the macroeconomic and microeconomic literatures: the increased productivity and education from malaria eradication will only appear in aggregate measures like GDP per capita after a delay because of the initial increase in the population size.    

JEL Codes:I15, I18, J13, O15

Keywords:  malaria, fertility, disease eradication

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