Skip to main content

The Effects of Conflict on Fertility: Evidence From the Genocide in Rwanda

Abstract

Our study analyzes the fertility effects of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. We study the effects of violence on both the duration time to the first birth in the early post-genocide period and on the total number of post-genocide births per woman up to 15 years following the conflict. We use individual-level data from Demographic and Health Surveys, estimating survival and count data models. This article contributes to the literature on the demographic effects of violent conflict by testing two channels through which conflict influences fertility: (1) the type of violence exposure as measured by the death of a child or sibling, and (2) the conflict-induced change in local demographic conditions as captured by the change in the district-level sex ratio. Results indicate the genocide had heterogeneous effects on fertility, depending on the type of violence experienced by the woman, her age cohort, parity, and the time horizon (5, 10, and 15 years after the genocide). There is strong evidence of a child replacement effect. Having experienced the death of a child during the genocide increases both the hazard of having a child in the five years following the genocide and the total number of post-genocide births. Experiencing sibling death during the genocide significantly lowers post-genocide fertility in both the short-run and the long-run. Finally, a reduction in the local sex ratio negatively impacts the hazard of having a child in the five years following the genocide, especially for older women.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3

Notes

  1. A commune in Rwanda in 1991 denoted a local administrative unit akin to a district.

  2. Caldwell (2004) noted that economic shocks generally have negative short-term effects on fertility.

  3. For a detailed account of the historical evolution of the tensions between Hutu and Tutsi, see Prunier (1999), Newbury (1988), Mamdani (2001), and Desforges (1999).

  4. In the literature, the term replacement effect includes both the physiological effect (associated with the truncation of lactation and the shortening of the length of the postpartum amenorrheic period) and the volitional replacement effect. The former, however, would apply only to cases of infant death and cannot explain the relation between child death and fertility (Palloni and Rafalimanana 1999).

  5. Conflict may affect the marriage market in ways that go beyond the decline in the sex ratio (La Mattina 2017). First, conflict may decrease women’s utility of being unmarried because of deteriorating economic conditions and increased risk of becoming a victim of sexual violence, thus increasing fertility. Second, the genocide may delay the age of first marriage, which would decrease fertility.

  6. We retain only women in the analysis sample for whom fertility information is available for at least five years during the post-genocide period. Thus, the age of the women included in our sample is slightly different for each wave. For instance, consider the 2010 wave that interviewed women aged 15–49 in 2010. When we restrict the sample to women aged 10–45 years in 1994, the regression sample consists of women who were aged 25–49 in 2010.

  7. Components of the wealth index include durables and housing characteristics. This wealth index provides a proxy for long-term economic well-being because many durables and housing characteristics are typically held by households for many years and are infrequently replaced (Sahn and Stifel 2000).

  8. Accuracy tests on the sibling mortality module in the DHS are discussed in de Walque and Verwimp (2010).

  9. For comparability, our analysis applies the administrative structure in place in 1991 to all DHS waves, when Rwanda’s administrative structure consisted of 11 prefectures and 145 communes.

  10. The duration time is parameterized in terms of the set of covariates, including the conflict proxy, but the particular distributional form of the duration time is not parameterized. Also, there is no constant term; the latter is absorbed in h0(t), which is not directly estimated in the model.

  11. Using June 1995 as a starting point allows us to exclude children conceived during the genocide, potentially through rape, from our analysis.

  12. The Cox regression analysis includes also right-censored observations, thus overcoming problems associated with censoring and preventing bias in our estimates.

  13. Previous fertility is defined as the number of children born before June 1995 and the percentage of children ever lost before the genocide.

  14. In Eq. (2), we use prefecture fixed effects (instead of commune fixed effects, as in Eq. (1)) because the sex ratio varies at the commune level.

  15. To compute the hazard ratio from the Cox coefficients, the following formula is applied: \( 100\times \left[\frac{\left({e}^{\upbeta \times 1}-{e}^{\upbeta \times 0}\right)}{e^{\upbeta \times 0}}\right] \) where β is the estimated regression coefficient.

  16. An F test rejects the null hypothesis that the coefficients are equal, with the p value being .06.

References

  • Agadjanian, V., Dommaraju, P., & Glick, J. E. (2008). Reproduction in upheaval: Ethnic-specific fertility responses to societal turbulence in Kazakhstan. Population Studies, 62, 211–233.

    Google Scholar 

  • Agadjanian, V., & Prata, N. (2002). War, peace, and fertility in Angola. Demography, 39, 215–231.

    Google Scholar 

  • Akresh, R., & de Walque, D. (2008). Armed conflict and schooling: Evidence from the 1994 Rwandan genocide (Policy Research Working Paper No. 4606). Washington, DC: World Bank.

  • Akresh, R., Verwimp, P., & Bundervoet, T. (2011). Civil war, crop failure, and child stunting in Rwanda. Economic Development and Cultural Change, 59, 777–810.

    Google Scholar 

  • André, C., & Platteau, J. P. (1998). Land relations under unbearable stress: Rwanda caught in the Malthusian trap. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 34, 1–47.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ben-Porath, Y. (1976). Fertility response to child mortality: Micro data from Israel. Journal of Political Economy, 84, S163–S178.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bethmann, D., & Kvasnicka, M. (2013). World War II, missing men and out of wedlock childbearing. Economic Journal, 123, 162–194.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bousmah, M.-a.-Q. (2017). The effect of child mortality on fertility behaviors is non-linear: new evidence from Senegal. Review of Economics of the Household, 15, 93–113.

    Google Scholar 

  • Brainerd, E. (2016). The lasting effect of sex ratio imbalance on marriage and family: Evidence from World War II in Russia (IZA Discussion Papers No. 10130). Bonn, Germany: Institute for the Study of Labor.

  • Brück, T., & Schindler, K. (2009). The impact of violent conflicts on households: What do we know and what should we know about war widows? Oxford Development Studies, 37, 289–309.

    Google Scholar 

  • Buvinic, M., Das Gupta, M., Casabonne, U., & Verwimp, P. (2013). Violent conflict and gender inequality: An overview. World Bank Research Observer, 28, 110–138.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cain, M. (1983). Fertility as an adjustment to risk. Population and Development Review, 9, 688–702.

    Google Scholar 

  • Caldwell, J. C. (2004). Social upheaval and fertility decline. Journal of Family History, 29, 382–406.

    Google Scholar 

  • Caldwell, J. C., Reddy, P. H., & Caldwell, P. (1986). Periodic high risk as a cause of fertility decline in a changing rural environment: Survival strategies in the 1980–1983 south Indian drought. Economic Development and Cultural Change, 34, 677–701.

    Google Scholar 

  • Clifford, D., Falkingham, J., & Hinde, A. (2010). Through civil war, food crisis and drought: Trends in fertility and nuptiality in post-Soviet Tajikistan. European Journal of Population, 26, 325–350.

    Google Scholar 

  • Curlin, G. T., Chen, L. C., & Hussain, S. B. (1976). Demographic crisis: The impact of the Bangladesh Civil War (1971) on births and deaths in a rural area of Bangladesh. Population Studies, 30, 87–105.

    Google Scholar 

  • Desforges, A. (1999). Leave none to tell the story: Genocide in Rwanda. New York, NY: Human Right Watch.

  • de Walque, D., & Verwimp, P. (2010). The demographic and socio-economic distribution of excess mortality during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Journal of African Economies, 19, 141–162.

    Google Scholar 

  • Elveborg Lindskog, E. (2016). Violent conflict and sexual behavior in Rwanda. Population, Space and Place, 22, 241–254.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fletcher, J., Mailick, M., Song, J., & Wolfe, B. (2013). A sibling death in the family: Common and consequential. Demography, 50, 803–826.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fletcher, J., Vidal-Fernandez, M., & Wolfe, B. (2018). Dynamic and heterogeneous effects of sibling death on children’s outcomes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 115, 115–120.

    Google Scholar 

  • Frankenberg, E., Laurito, M. M., & Thomas, D. (2015). The demographic impact of disasters. In J. Wright (Ed.), International encyclopedia of the social & behavioral sciences (2nd ed., pp. 101–108). Amsterdam, the Netherlands: Elsevier.

  • Heuveline, P., & Poch, B. (2007). The Phoenix population: Demographic crisis and rebound in Cambodia. Demography, 44, 405–426.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hill, K. (2004). War, humanitarian crises, population displacement, and fertility: A review of evidence. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hossain, M. B., Phillips, J. F., & Legrand, T. K. (2007). The impact of childhood mortality on fertility in six rural thanas of Bangladesh. Demography, 44, 771–784.

    Google Scholar 

  • Iqbal, Z. (2010). War and the health of nations. Standford, CA: Stanford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Islam, A., Ouch, C., Smyth, R., & Wang, L. C. (2016). The long-term effects of civil conflicts on education, earnings, and fertility: Evidence from Cambodia. Journal of Comparative Economics, 44, 800–820.

    Google Scholar 

  • Justino, P., & Verwimp, P. (2013). Poverty dynamics, violent conflict, and convergence in Rwanda. Review of Income and Wealth, 59, 66–90.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kalemli-Ozcan, S. (2003). A stochastic model of mortality, fertility, and human capital investment. Journal of Development Economics, 70, 103–118.

    Google Scholar 

  • Khawaja, M. (2000). The recent rise in Palestinian fertility: Permanent or transient? Population Studies, 54, 331–346.

    Google Scholar 

  • Khawaja, M., Assaf, S., & Jarallah, Y. (2009). The transition to lower fertility in the West Bank and Gaza Strip: Evidence from recent surveys. Journal of Population Research, 26, 153–174.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kidane, A. (1989). Demographic consequences of the 1984–1985 Ethiopian famine. Demography, 26, 515–522.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kim, J.-Y., McHale, S. M., Osgood, D., & Crouter, A. C. (2006). Longitudinal course and family correlates of sibling relationships from childhood through adolescence. Child Development, 77, 1746–1761.

    Google Scholar 

  • La Mattina, G. (2017). Civil conflict, domestic violence and intra-household bargaining in post-genocide Rwanda. Journal of Development Economics, 124, 168–198.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lee, R. (1990). The demographic response to economic crisis in historical and contemporary populations. Population Bulletin of the United Nations, 29, 1–15.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lindstrom, D. P., & Berhanu, B. (1999). The impact of war, famine, and economic decline on marital fertility in Ethiopia. Demography, 36, 247–261.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lindstrom, D. P., & Kiros, G.-E. (2007). The impact of infant and child death on subsequent fertility in Ethiopia. Population Research and Policy Review, 26, 31–49.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lopez, H., & Wodon, Q. (2005). The economic impact of armed conflict in Rwanda. Journal of African Economies, 14, 586–602.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mamdani, M. (2001). When victims become killers: Colonialism, nativism, and the genocide in Rwanda. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Montgomery, M. R., & Cohen, B. (1998). From death to birth: Mortality decline and reproductive change. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Nandi, A., Mazumdar, S., & Behrman, J. R. (2017). The effect of natural disaster on fertility, birth spacing, and child sex ratio: Evidence from a major earthquake in India. Journal of Population Economics, 31, 267–293.

    Google Scholar 

  • Newbury, C. (1988). The cohesion of oppression: Clientship and ethnicity in Rwanda 1860–1960. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Nobles, J., Frankenberg, E., & Thomas, D. (2015). The effects of mortality on fertility: Population dynamics after a natural disaster. Demography, 52, 15–38.

    Google Scholar 

  • Norris, F. H., Friedman, M., Watson, P., Byrne, C., Diaz, E., & Kaniasty, K. (2002). 60,000 disaster victims speak: Part I. An empirical review of the empirical literature, 1981–2001. Psychiatry: Interpersonal and Biological Processes, 65, 207–239.

    Google Scholar 

  • Nugent, J. B. (1985). The old-age security motive for fertility. Population and Development Review, 11, 75–97.

    Google Scholar 

  • Palloni, A., & Rafalimanana, H. (1999). The effects of infant mortality on fertility revisited: New evidence from Latin America. Demography, 36, 41–58.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pörtner, C. C. (2001). Children as insurance. Journal of Population Economics, 14, 119–136.

    Google Scholar 

  • Preston, S. H. (1978). The effects of infant and child mortality on fertility. New York, NY: Academic Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Prunier, G. (1999). Rwanda: Le génocide. Paris, France: Éditions Dagorno.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rindfuss, R. R., Reed, J. S., & St. John, C. (1978). A fertility reaction to a historical event: Southern white birthrates and the 1954 desegregation ruling. Science, 201, 178–180.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rodgers, J. L., Craig, A. S. J., & Ronnie, C. (2005). Did fertility go up after the Oklahoma City bombing? An analysis of births in metropolitan counties in Oklahoma, 1990–1999. Demography, 42, 675–692.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rogall, T., & Yanagizawa-Drott, D. (2014). The legacy of political mass killings: Evidence from the Rwandan genocide. Cambridge, MA: Unpublished manuscript, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sah, R. K. (1991). The effects of child mortality changes on fertility choice and parental welfare. Journal of Political Economy, 99, 582–606.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sahn, D. E., & Stifel, D. C. (2000). Poverty comparisons over time and across countries in Africa. World Development, 28, 2123–2155.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sandberg, J. (2006). Infant mortality, social networks, and subsequent fertility. American Sociological Review, 71, 288–309.

    Google Scholar 

  • Schindler, K. (2010). Who does what in a household after genocide? Evidence from Rwanda (DIW Discussion Paper No. 1072). Berlin: German Institute for Economic Research.

    Google Scholar 

  • Schindler, K., & Verpoorten, M. (2013). Armed conflict, sex ratio and marital outcomes: Evidence from Rwanda. Unpublished manuscript, Department of Development and Security, German Institute for Economic Research, Berlin, Germany.

  • Schultz, T. P. (1969). An economic model of family planning and fertility. Journal of Political Economy, 77, 153–180.

    Google Scholar 

  • Schultz, T. P. (1997). Chapter 8: Demand for children in low income countries. In M. R. Rosenzweig & O. Stark (Eds.), Handbook of population and family economics (Vol. 1, part A, pp. 349–430). Amsterdam, the Netherlands: Elsevier.

  • Shemyakina, O. (2011). The effect of armed conflict on accumulation of education: Results from Tajikistan. Journal of Development Economics, 95, 186–200.

    Google Scholar 

  • Stroebe, M. S., Folkman, S., Hansson, R. O., & Schut, H. (2006). The prediction of bereavement outcome: Development of an integrative risk factor framework. Social Science & Medicine, 63, 2440–2451.

    Google Scholar 

  • Urdal, H., & Che, C. P. (2013). War and gender inequalities in health: The impact of armed conflict on fertility and maternal mortality. International Interactions, 39, 489–510.

    Google Scholar 

  • Vail, K. E., Juhl, J., Arndt, J., Vess, M., Routledge, C., & Rutjens, B. T. (2012). When death is good for life: Considering the positive trajectories of terror management. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 16, 303–329.

    Google Scholar 

  • Verpoorten, M. (2005). The death toll of the Rwandan genocide: A detailed analysis for Gikongoro Province. Population, 60, 331–367.

    Google Scholar 

  • Verpoorten, M. (2009). Household coping in war- and peacetime: Cattle sales in Rwanda, 1991–2001. Journal of Development Economics, 88, 67–86.

    Google Scholar 

  • Verpoorten, M. (2012). Leave none to claim the land: A Malthusian catastrophe in Rwanda? Journal of Peace Research, 49, 547–563.

    Google Scholar 

  • Verwimp, P., Justino, P., & Brück, T. (2009). The analysis of conflict: A micro-level perspective. Journal of Peace Research, 46, 307–314.

    Google Scholar 

  • Verwimp, P., Osti, D., & Østby, G. (2017). Migration, forced displacement and fertility during civil war: A survival analysis (CEB Working Paper 17/016). Brussels, Belgium: Centre Emile Berhnheim, Free University of Brussels.

  • Verwimp, P., & Van Bavel, J. (2005). Child survival and fertility of refugees in Rwanda. European Journal of Population, 21, 271–290.

    Google Scholar 

  • Williams, N. E., Ghimire, D. J., Axinn, W. G., Jennings, E. A., & Pradhan, M. S. (2012). A micro-level event-centered approach to investigating armed conflict and population responses. Demography, 49, 1521–1546.

    Google Scholar 

  • Woldemicael, G. (2008). Recent fertility decline in Eritrea: Is it a conflict-led transition? Demographic Research, 18, 27–58. https://doi.org/10.4054/DemRes.2008.18.2.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wolpin, K. I. (1997). Chapter 10: Determinants and consequences of the mortality and health of infants and children. In M. R. Rosenzweig & O. Stark (Eds.), Handbook of population and family economics (Vol. 1, part A, pp. 483–557). Amsterdam, the Netherlands: Elsevier.

  • Yanagizawa-Drott, D. (2014). Propaganda and conflict: Evidence from the Rwandan genocide. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 129, 1947–1994.

    Google Scholar 

  • Yi, J., Heckman, J. J., Zhang, J., & Conti, G. (2015). Early health shocks, intra-household resource allocation and child outcomes. Economic Journal, 125, F347–F371.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

We are grateful for helpful comments from three anonymous reviewers, Damien de Walque, Quy-Toan Do, Paul Francis, Kathleen Jennings, Adam Lederer, Marinella Leone, Malte Lierl, Tony Muhumuza, Amber Peterman, Susan Steiner, Håvard Strand, Marijke Verpoorten, Philip Verwimp, and Marc Vothknecht. Uuriintuya Batsaikhan provided excellent research assistance. We are indebted to the National Institute of Statistics Rwanda and, in particular, Augustin Twagirumukiza. The study was funded by the World Bank, with generous support from the Government of Norway. Michele Di Maio gratefully acknowledges the financial support from University Parthenope (Programma di Sostegno alla Ricerca Individuale). The usual disclaimer applies.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Kati Kraehnert.

Additional information

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Electronic supplementary material

ESM 1

(PDF 315 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Kraehnert, K., Brück, T., Di Maio, M. et al. The Effects of Conflict on Fertility: Evidence From the Genocide in Rwanda. Demography 56, 935–968 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13524-019-00780-8

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s13524-019-00780-8

Keywords