Working Papers

Early Life Experiences and Adult Fertility Behavior: Evidence from Indonesia

with Marc Rockmore and Willa Friedman

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An emerging literature finds that early life experiences influence adult preference. We apply this intuition to understand the influence of witnessing adverse pregnancy outcomes and sibling deaths as a child on subsequent adult fertility outcomes in Indonesia. Using panel data and a sibling fixed effect model, we identify solely based on the exogenous variation in the age of pre-existing children with the same family. Our findings strongly confirm the importance and persistence of early life experiences. This suggests that early life interventions may be important and that the efficacy of health interventions may not be visible until decades afterwards.

Keywords: Indonesia; Childhood Shocks; Fertility, Fertility Preferences
JEL Codes: I10, J13, J16


The Long-run Effects of the Yogyakarta Earthquake on Child Health Outcomes

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The intersection of research on early childhood exposure to natural disasters and its impact on welfare has rejuvenated the public policy debate of targeting the disaster relief to most vulnerable subpopulations. Given the multi-dimensionality of welfare, depending on the proxy, the implications of experiencing such disasters could be vastly different.  This paper proxies welfare using a health metric and empirically investigates the interlinks between exposure to the Yogyakarta earthquake on child health using a 21 year long panel dataset. Once I decompose the effect of the earthquake based on variation in the age of exposure, I find irreversible damage to welfare arising from loss of human capital. Furthermore, the effect appears to be concentrated on children under 2 years at the time of the event with boys being more vulnerable than girls. On a broader spectrum, the long-term effects of the earthquake could be even more pronounced as these children grow older. The study provides empirical evidence for vulnerability based public provision systems post disasters.

Keywords: Indonesia; Early Childhood Shocks; Stunting; Cognitive Ability; Morbidity

JEL Codes: I10, J13, J16, O53