Abstract

In this article, we analyze fertility control in a rural population characterized by natural fertility, using survival analysis on a longitudinal data set at the individual level combined with food prices. Landless and semilandless families responded strongly to short-term economic stress stemming from changes in prices. The fertility response, both to moderate and large changes in food prices, was the strongest within six months after prices changed in the fall, which means that the response was deliberate. People foresaw bad times and planned their fertility accordingly. The result highlights the importance of deliberate control of the timing of childbirth before the fertility transition, not in order to achieve a certain family size but, as in this case, to reduce the negative impacts of short-term economic stress.

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