Exploring the influence of precipitation on fertility timing in rural Mexico

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Abstract

The influence of environmental conditions on fertility decision-making is becoming increasingly important in the context of contemporary climate change. Deforestation, land availability, and environmental quality may shape decisions regarding family size, particularly in regions with high levels of natural resource dependence. This research examines the relationship between fertility timing and precipitation in rural Mexico by linking household event-history data to municipal-level precipitation measures. Even after controlling for other factors that impact fertility, in historically dry areas, households are more likely to have a child following above average precipitation, using both 1-year and 2-year prior precipitation measures. Conversely, the relationship between precipitation and fertility timing in humid areas of rural Mexico is not statistically significant. Overall, the findings reveal that the fertility-environment connection is highly context-specific and differs across climate zones in Mexico, but that fertility timing is associated with recent rainfall patterns for households in dry areas of rural Mexico.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    The 10-year normal for the year 1971 would be the average precipitation between 1961 and 1970.

  2. 2.

    Sensitivity analyses were run using a cohort based approach to control for temporal variation and the results remained the same. Results are available upon request.

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Acknowledgements

This ongoing research has benefited from the NICHD-funded University of Colorado Population Center (grant R21 HD51146) for research, administrative, and computing support. The content is solely the responsibility of the author and does not necessarily represent the official views of the CUPC, NIH, or NICHD. The author would like to thank Fernando Riosmena, Lori Hunter, Ryan Masters, Catherine Talbot, Jason Boardman, David Pyrooz, Phil Pendergast, and the anonymous reviewers for their help and thoughtful comments in preparing this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Daniel H. Simon.

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Simon, D.H. Exploring the influence of precipitation on fertility timing in rural Mexico. Popul Environ 38, 407–423 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11111-017-0281-3

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Keywords

  • Fertility
  • Environment
  • Mexico
  • Livelihoods
  • Precipitation
  • MMP