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Terrorist Attacks Decrease Fertility Levels: Study

Update Date: Nov 20, 2014 01:08 PM EST

On average, terrorist attacks decreases fertility, reducing both the expected number of children a woman has over her lifetime and the number of live births occurring during each year, according to a new study. 

The study is first to empirically identify and quantify an effect of terrorism on fertility. 

Researchers used a panel data set composed of data on terrorist attacks from 1970-2007. Data on fertility was determined from the World Bank Development Indicators website. 

After rigorous analysis through a robust set of model types and specifications, it was found that terrorism is likely to act on fertility through job uncertainty, psychological stress, wealth uncertainty, and poor health, which can cause significant short-term declines in fertility by affecting related factors such as age at first birth, age at marriage, frequency of sexual intercourse, and labour migration, the press release said. 

"Measured by both the number of incidents and the number of deaths, terrorism was shown to exert a statistically significant, negative effect on fertility rates for both TFR and CBR."

"Besides illuminating another far-reaching effect of terrorism, the relationship between terrorism and fertility will be critical to understand when policy makers attempt to deal with other demographic transitions and security concerns," Dr Dr. Claude Berrebi of the Hebrew University, Jerusalem said in a press release.

"How societies act in response to the perception of threat from terrorist groups has far reaching implications. Rather than demographic change being the root cause of terrorism, using sophisticated empirical analysis, we were able to identify causal effects of terrorism on larger-scale demographic transitions. Our findings explain some of the disparities between previous theories and results and put to rest some notions suggesting reverse directionality."

The study was published in the Oxford Economic Papers. 

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