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CEP discussion paper

An Urban Legend?! Power Rationing, Fertility and its Effects on Mothers


This paper answers the question whether extreme power rationing can induce changes in human fertility and thus, generate “mini baby booms”. We study a period of extensive power rationing in Colombia that lasted for most of 1992 and see whether this has increased births in the subsequent year, exploiting variation from a newly constructed measure of the extent of power rationing. We find that power rationing increased the probability that a mother had a baby by 4 percent and establish that this effect is permanent as mothers who had a black out baby were not able to adjust their total long-run fertility. Exploiting this variation, we show that women who had a black-out baby find themselves in worse socio-economic conditions more than a decade later, highlighting potential social costs of unplanned motherhood.


Thiemo Fetzer, Oliver Pardo and Amar Shanghavi

18 November 2013     Paper Number CEPDP1247

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This CEP discussion paper is published under the centre's Community Wellbeing programme.