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Access to natural resources and the fertility decision of women: the case of South Africa

Rimjhim Aggarwal, Sinaia Netanyahu and Claudia Romano

Environment and Development Economics, 2001, vol. 6, issue 2, 209-236

Abstract: Previous studies have examined the impact of an exogenous increase in population on the local resource base. In some recent theoretical work it has been proposed that resource scarcity, in turn, may affect fertility, and hence population growth rates. However, the sign and magnitude of this effect remains an open empirical question. In this paper we examine the impact of fuelwood and water scarcity on fertility rates using household data from rural South Africa. An individual choice model of fertility is estimated in which resource scarcity affects the demand for children through its effect on child mortality and productivity of children as resource collectors. Several alternative measures of resource scarcity are used, such as average distance traveled and time per trip for collecting water and fuelwood. We find wood scarcity to have a positive and significant effect on fertility. The effect of water scarcity is also positive, but not significant in general.

Date: 2001
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