Talk by Dr. Monica Caudillo: Assessing the Impact of Local Violence on Teenage Fertility: The Case of Mexico
In 2016, Dr. Caudillo received her Ph.D. in sociology from NYU and she currently is a post-doctoral researcher at the Maryland Population Research Center.
Using the case of Mexico, I evaluate the effect of local homicide rates on fertility for teenage women. I assess the effects of exposure to homicide rates on birth rates using fixed-effects panel analysis and aggregate data on births from the Mexican Civil Registry. Results show that exposure to violence has different implications for more and less educated women. For more educated women, models suggest that local violence reduces birth rates. This is consistent with a response to violence-driven economic uncertainty. For less educated women, my analyses suggest that local violence increases birth rates, and this is driven by births to unmarried, cohabiting women. An exploration of potential causal mechanisms suggests that increasing births to less educated unmarried women may be explained by worsening local marriage market conditions. In other words, desirable partners may become scarcer due to violence-driven unemployment, as well as increasing probabilities of crime involvement and victimization, among other factors. In this scenario, less educated women may increase premarital sex and childbearing as strategies to secure a long-term partner. As an alternative causal mechanism, violence-driven economic decline may decrease less educated women’s opportunity costs of childbearing, because their chances of having a stable job may deteriorate more sharply than those of their more educated counterparts.