Journal of Population Economics

, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 267–293 | Cite as

The effect of natural disaster on fertility, birth spacing, and child sex ratio: evidence from a major earthquake in India

  • Arindam Nandi
  • Sumit Mazumdar
  • Jere R. Behrman
Original Paper


Natural disasters can lead to significant changes in health, economic, and demographic outcomes. However, the demographic effects of earthquakes have been studied only to a limited degree. This paper examines the effect of the 2001 Gujarat earthquake on reproductive outcomes. This earthquake killed more than 20,000 people; injured 167,000; and caused massive losses to property and civic assets. Using data from two large-scale District-Level Household Surveys (2002–2004 and 2007–2008), we employ difference-in-difference and fixed-effect regression models to compare the outcomes across earthquake-affected districts and their neighboring districts during 5 years before and after the earthquake. We find that the earthquake led to significant rises in childbirth rates. It also reduced birth spacing among uneducated, tribal, and Muslim women, and the incidence of male births among rural women. We find considerable variation in the demographic effects of the earthquake across location, household socioeconomic status, and parental age and education.


Gujarat Earthquake India Fertility Birth spacing Sex ratio Trivers-Willard hypothesis 

JEL codes

J10 J11 J13 J16 



We thank the two anonymous reviewers for their very helpful comments.

Compliance with ethical standards

This study uses publicly available household survey data. No separate ethics clearance was necessary


This study has no funding source.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tata Centre for DevelopmentUniversity of ChicagoChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Center for Disease DynamicsEconomics & PolicyWashingtonUSA
  3. 3.Institute of Public HealthKalyaniIndia
  4. 4.Departments of Economics and Sociology and Population Studies CenterUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA

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