This paper is concerned with the impact of epidemics on economic behavior, and in particular on fertility and schooling. Special attention is paid to the fertility eect, which has been at the heart of a recent controversy around the AIDS crisis. An illustrative model is proposed where agents choose labor supply, life-cycle consumption and the number of children. We show that the optimal response in terms of fertility and labor supply to an epidemic shock depends on the relative strength of two forces at work, deriving from: (i) the induced decrease in the survival probability, and (ii) the impact of epidemics on wages. A comprehensive empirical study is then proposed to disentangle the latter eects in the HIV/AIDS and malaria cases. Using data from 69 developing countries over the period 1980-2004, we nd that HIV/AIDS has a robust negative eect on fertility and a robust positive eect on education, while opposite results are found in the case of malaria. We argue that this discrepancy can be attributed to a sizeable wage eect in the AIDS case while such an eect is rather negligible under malaria at least in the short term, as higher malaria prevalence depresses wages in the long term.
This paper develops a theory of optimal fertility behavior under mortality schocks. In a 3-periods OLG model, young adults determine their optimal fertility, labor supply and life-cycle consumption with both exogenous child and adult mortality risks. For fixed prices (real wages and interest rate), it is shown that both child and adult one-period mortality shocks raise fertility due to insurance and life-cycle mechanisms respectively. In general equilibrium, adult mortality shocks give risse to price effects (notably through rising wages) lowering fertility, in contrast to child mortality shocks. We complement our theory with an empirical analysis on a sample of 39 Sub-Saharan African countries over the 1980-2004 period, checking for the overall effects of the adult and child mortality channels on optimal fertility behavior. We find child mortality to exert a robust, positive impact on fertility, whereas the reverse is ture for adult mortality. We further find this negative effect fertility of a rise in adult mortality to dominate in the long-term the positive effect on demand for children resulting from an increase in child mortality.
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