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The Strathprints institutional repository is a digital archive of University of Strathclyde research outputs. Strathprints provides access to thousands of Open Access research papers by University of Strathclyde researchers, including those from the School of Psychological Sciences & Health - but also papers by researchers based within the Faculties of Science, Engineering, Humanities & Social Sciences, and from the Strathclyde Business School.

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How do epidemics induce behavioral changes?

Boucekkine, R. and Desbordes, R. and Latzer, H. (2009) How do epidemics induce behavioral changes? Journal of Economic Growth, 14 (3). pp. 233-264. ISSN 1381-4338

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Abstract

This paper develops a theory of optimal fertility behavior under mortality shocks. In an OLG model, young adults determine their optimal fertility, labor supply and life-cycle consumption with both exogenous child and adult mortality risks. We show that a rise in adult mortality exerts an ambiguous effect on both net and total fertility in a general equilibrium framework, while child mortality shocks unambiguously lead to a rise in total fertility, leaving net fertility unchanged. We complement our theory with an empirical analysis using a sample of 39 Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries over the 1980-2004 period, examining the overall effects of the child and adult mortality channels on both total and net fertility. We find child mortality to exert a robust, positive impact on total fertility but no impact on net fertility, whereas a rise in adult mortality is found to negatively influence both total and net fertility. Given the particular demographic profile of the HIV/AIDS epidemic (killing essentially young, active adults), we then conclude in favor of an unambiguous negative effect of the HIV/AIDS epidemic on net fertility in SSA.