XXVII IUSSP International Population Conference

Just back from the XXVII IUSSP International Population Conference, held in Busan, Korea. I presented my paper on family planning in Ethiopia (joint with Kathleen Beegle and Luc Christaensen) and a poster on my work on sex selective abortions in India. My student, Shamma Alam, presented our joint paper on income shocks and timing of fertility in Tanzania.

All-in-all it was a great conference and very well-organized. Only complaint was that many of the best US demographers did not attend. Quality of the sessions were a little more varied than what you find at the PAA, but I will be back again in four years. Finally, if you get a chance to go to Korea: take it; it is a wonderful place to visit.

Talks on income shocks and timing of fertility

I presented preliminary results from Shamma Alam and my work on "Income Shocks, Contraceptive Use, and Timing of Fertility" at University of Oregon in Eugene on 16 November and I will be presenting at the UW labor and development brown bag tomorrow at 12.30. The abstract for the paper is below.

This paper examines the relationship between household income shocks and fertility decisions. Using panel data from Tanzania, we estimate the impact of agricultural shocks on contraception use, pregnancy, and the likelihood of childbirth. To account for unobservable household characteristics that potentially affect both shocks and fertility decisions we employ a fixed effects model. Households significantly increase their contraception use in response to income shocks from crop loss. This comes from an increased use of both traditional contraceptive methods and modern contraceptives. The poorer the household the stronger the effect of income shock on contraceptive use is. Furthermore, pregnancies and childbirth are significantly delayed for households experiencing a crop shock. For both pregnancy and childbirth the likelihood of delay as a result of shocks increases the poorer the household. We argue that these changes in behavior are the result of deliberate decisions of the households rather than income shocks' effects on other factors that influence fertility, such as women's health status, the absence or migration of spouse, and dissolution of partnerships.

Shamma Alam named 2012 Hewlett Foundation / IIE Dissertation Fellow

Shamma Alam has been named as one of the seven 2012 Hewlett Foundation / IIE Dissertation Fellows. These fellowships support dissertation research on topics that examine how population dynamics, family planning and reproductive health influence economic development, including economic growth, poverty reduction, and equity. Shamma and I are currently working on a paper examining the effects of income shocks on timing of fertility and use of contraceptives in Tanzania. Shamma has also worked as my RA on my NSF grant. The official announcement and short bio of Shamma and the other recipients is here.

CSAE and PAA conferences

Busy March: In addition to the PacDev mentioned below, I presented my work on family planning in Ethiopia at the 25th anniversary conference of the Centre for Studies of African Economies in Oxford and at the Population Association of America's annual meeting in Washington, DC. Mark Anderson and I also had a poster on our paper on the effects of dropping out of high school on sexually transmitted diseases.

Why is Dropping Out of High School Bad? Dropouts and Sexually Transmitted Infections

Mark Anderson and I just finished a paper looking at one pathway through which dropping out of school might affect future life outcomes. The paper is "Why is Dropping Out of High School Bad? Dropouts and Sexually Transmitted Infections". The abstract for the paper is:

People who drop out of high school fare worse in many aspects of life. We analyze whether there is a causal effect of dropping out of high school on the probability of contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Previous studies on the relationship between dropout status and sexual outcomes have not empirically addressed self-selection effects. Using individual fixed effects estimations we find strong evidence that dropping out increases the risk of contracting an STI for females. Furthermore, we present evidence illustrating differences between the romantic partners of dropouts versus enrolled students. These differences suggest that female dropouts may be more susceptible to contracting STIs because they partner with significantly different types of people than non-dropouts. These results point to a previously undocumented benefit of encouraging those at risk of dropping out to stay in school longer.

Mark Anderson interviewed about Montana Meth Project

My student, Mark Anderson was on Hawii Public Radio recently talking about his forthcoming paper in Journal of Health Economics showing that the Montana Meth Project had no discernible effect on meth use once the pre-existing downward trend is taken into account. You can listen to the interview. The paper is available from his home page. Mark will be on the job market this year.