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CEP Discussion Paper
An Urban Legend?! Power Rationing, Fertility and its Effects on Mothers
Thiemo Fetzer, Oliver Pardo and Amar Shanghavi
November 2013
Paper No' CEPDP1247:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: J13; J16; O18; H41

Tags: fertility; infrastructure; blackouts; unplanned parenthood

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.