New Publication – Disease and Fertility: Evidence from the 1918-19 Influenza Pandemic in Sweden

New Publication by Martin Karlsson, together with Nina Boberg-Fazlic (University of Southern Denmark), Maryna Ivets (University of Duisburg-Essen) and Therese Nilsson (Lund University) in Economics and Human Biology.



What are the consequences of a severe health shock like an influenza pandemic on fertility? Using rich administrative data and a difference-in-differences approach, we evaluate fertility responses to the 1918-19 influenza pandemic in Sweden.  We find evidence of a small baby boom following the end of the pandemic, but we show that this effect is second-order compared to a strong long-term negative fertility effect. Within this net fertility decline there are compositional effects: we observe a relative increase in births to married women and to better-off families. Several factors – including disruptions to the marriage market and income effects – contribute to the long-term fertility reduction. The results are consistent with studies that find a positive fertility response following natural disasters, but we show that this effect is short-lived.