Click here for search results

Fertility, Reproductive Health, and Socioeconomic Outcomes

This program aims to engender more evidence-based research on how reproductive choices and demographic changes affect poverty and socioeconomic outcomes in developing countries. The program is funded by the Hewlett Foundation under a Trust Fund executed by the Bank. The individual studies are also co-funded by the Bank and other sponsors.
Research program    Project Profiles   Results    Progress Reports   Administration 

Project Profiles

1.  Marriage, Fertility, and Household Economics in the Time of HIV/AIDS

2. Demographic Change and Women's Labor Force Participation

  • Demographic change and women’s labor force participation examines the impact of changes in fertility and childbearing practices on women’s labor force participation, using the experiment in Bangladesh. Researchers:  Mattias Lundberg, Nistha Sinha and Elizabeth King.
  • Fertility and women's labor supply (Powerpoint presentation) Children provide labor for current consumption and a means of support in old age. The need to care for a child restricts the time that a mother can devote to paid labor, inside or outside the home.But the need to provide care diminishes as the child grows, permitting the mother to return to work. As demand for skilled labor increases with development, wages rise - so does the opportunity cost of time, including the time required to raise children. Researchers: Maria Porter and Elizabeth King.

3.  Impact of Family Size on Child Welfare and Other Child Outcomes  

  • The Impact of Conditional Cash Transfers on Early Childhood Development in Malawi - Most ECD interventions focus on providing resources (information, nutrition, access to health centers, cash) to mothers or mothers-to-be. However, there is also reason to think that investments in adolescent girls before they start childbearing can influence the health and development of their children in the future. Taking advantage of a randomized experiment that provides cash transfers to adolescent girls in Malawi, we aim to study the program’s impact on the infants and children of this target population.
  • The Impact of a Secondary School Scholarship Program on Reproductive Health Outcomes in Cambodia - This study builds on a long-run follow up study of Cambodian children--male and female--who applied for a secondary school scholarship program in 2005.  The study will allow an evaluation of the impact of the program, and the resulting increase in school attainment, on a variety of outcomes among adolescents such as learning outcomes, life-skills, knowledge about healthy behaviors and risk taking.  One of the indicators of particular interest is marriage and fertility among girls, and how it interacts with their schooling and ultimate economic well-being. 
  • Fertility decline and rising child sex ratios in China: Socio-economic consequences as these cohorts age -  In recent decades, fertility decline in China has fuelled a sharp increase in the proportions of ‘missing girls’.  This means that increasing proportions of the boys born will be unable to marry, and will face old age without the economic and other support normally provided by wives and children. However, we know little about the potential socio-economic consequences of this impending change in the marriage markets.  This study will use the successive Chinese censuses to analyze (1) the projected socio-economic of the unmarried men, and (2) their geographic distribution.  This will allow an analysis of whether the unmarried men are likely to be especially in need of safety nets or able to provide for their own old age, and also whether they are likely to be concentrated in provinces that are better resourced for supporting safety nets for the disadvantaged --- or in poorer provinces which are least able to offer employment or safety nets.  In the latter case, men will be left with meager ability to save for their old age, no wife or children to help support them, and limited safety nets.
    Researchers: Monica Das Gupta, Avraham Ebenstein, and Ethan Jennings.
  • Determining the impact of family size on child welfare across the developing world explores the impact of family size on child welfare outcomes, such as neonatal and non-neonatal infant mortality, child mortality, and anthropometric measures of child nutritional status.
    Researchers: Deon Filmer, Jed Friedman and Norbert Schady.
  • Financial incentives for female births and parental investments in daughters: Evidence from a program in North India (abstract) examines how parents’ fertility choices affect investments in children, by assessing the impact of the Apni Beti Apna Dhan program on children’s health (mortality, nutritional status) and schooling, focusing on gender differences in impacts.
    Researchers: Nistha Sinha and Rekha Varghese.
  • The decision to invest in child quality over quantity: declining fertility and rising investment in private tutoring (abstract) investigates how lower fertility levels affect direct outlays on private tutoring and schooling generally. Researchers: Halsey Rogers and Hai-Anh Dang.
  • Family size and investments in early childhood development in Ecuador assess how family size interacts with the use of the ECD interventions and explains how it mediates the impact of those interventions on child cognitive outcomes, using impact evaluation methods; with data collection. Researchers: Christina Paxson and Norbert Schady.

4.  Demographic Trends, Economic Growth, and Distribution Dynamics: Cross country analysis

  • Climate Volatility, Fertility, and Infant Mortality - This study will investigate the relation between extreme weather events, climate volatility, and infant survival in Africa, with a focus on socio-economic mediators of this relation as well as fertility responses to weather induced infant mortality. The project leverages all existing sub-Saharan African DHS surveys that contain household location coordinates - this results in a data set of 450,000 births to 220,000 women in 24 countries - and maps the birth outcomes reported by these households to daily temperature and rainfall estimates valid for a 50x50 kilometer area over the period 1977-2002. Exposure to extreme heat and rainfall events, both in-utero and after birth, are related to survival at 12 months in a flexible and robust manner. The same robust class of estimators are applied to subsequent fertility timing after severe weather shocks and possible infant death in order to explore the joint influence of weather induced mortality on fertility decisions. Exploiting the timing of weather shocks and the gender of the child illuminates the differential pathways - either the direct effects of extreme weather or socio-economic consequences of weather shocks - that weather variability affects both mortality and subsequent fertility decisions. Empirical estimates will then be applied to various climate change scenarios and various mitigation strategies discussed.
  • The Effects of Crisis on Women’s Reproductive Behavior, and the welfare of the next generation - Current discussions of the impact of economic crises on welfare have been contentious and inconclusive.  We do not understand sufficiently how social, economic, or environmental shocks affect human capital development or outcomes in the long run, whether in nutrition and health, education, or subsequent childbearing decisions.  This research will examine the long-run impacts of shocks on outcomes in adulthood, and whether these impacts extend to the welfare of the next generation.  It will utilize selected household datasets from sub-Saharan Africa, to see whether and in what circumstances there is any correlation between the early life experiences of different cohorts of adult women and their human capital outcomes, their subsequent fertility decisions, and the health and well-being of their children.  In what contexts are women and children most vulnerable to economic shocks, and who are comparatively well-protected?
  • Population Programs and Reproductive Health - Since the mid-1990s, there has been little donor interest in population programs. This is beginning to change, in the face of mounting evidence that continuing high levels of fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa pose constraints on development.  These constraints range from the dilution of per capita resources for human capital investment, exacerbation of problems of sustainable access to physical resources such as land and water, and slowing of improvement in maternal and child health.  The World Bank and other donors are now beginning to renew their interest in population programs. This study seeks to summarize the lessons from past programs, that can help inform the upcoming programs.
  • Demographic trends, economic growth and distribution dynamics analyzes the economic impacts of a delayed or a quickened decline in fertility rates in developing countries, using a combination of macro models (economy-wide general equilibrium models) and micro models (based on household survey data). Researchers: Maurizio Bussolo, Rafael E. De Hoyos Navarro, Denis Medvedev, Dominique van der Mensbrugghe and David S. Horowitz.

Preliminary results presented at April 22, 2008 workshop drafts included

Preliminary results presented at the Population Association of America in April-May 2009

Preliminary results presented to Hewlett fellows from outside the World Bank, June 4, 2009

Preliminary results presented at the Fourth Annual Conference of the Population-Poverty network, Cape Town, January 2010.  

Preliminary Results presented at the Fifth Annual Conference of the Population-Poverty network, Marseille, January 2011.


Progress Reports


Project Managers
& Technical Advisors


Resource Management 

 World Bank


 Aban Daruwala 
(resource administrator)
Imran Hafiz 
(web administrator)

Selected Policy Research Working Papers
(Please use the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view  PDF files)
The following policy research working papers are drawn from the World Bank's institutional archives. Each link opens a page with an abstract of the document and several download options.

Last updated: 2012-03-06


WPS6446Conducting ethical economic research: complications from the fieldAlderman, Harold; Das, Jishnu; Rao, Vijayendra2013/05
WPS6423Building or bypassing recipient country systems : are donors defying the Paris declaration ?Knack, Stephen2013/04
WPS6364Using provider performance incentives to increase HIV testing and counseling services in Rwandade Walque, Damien; Gertler, Paul J; Bautista-Arredondo, Sergio; Kwan, Ada; Vermeersch, Christel; de Dieu Bizimana, Jean; Binagwaho, Agnes; Condo, Jeanine2013/02
WPS6339Buying votes vs. supplying public services : political incentives to under-invest in pro-poor policiesKhemani, Stuti2013/01
WPS6272Evaluating workfare when the work is unpleasant : evidence for India's national rural employment guarantee schemeLagrange, Arthur Alik; Ravallion, Martin2012/11

Permanent URL for this page:

© 2016 The World Bank Group, All Rights Reserved. Legal