Essays on Fertility, Migration, and the Environment

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This dissertation is a culmination of my research on the often-overlooked, yet critical aspects of highly politicized issues in modern society. The topics encompass international migration, stagnant fertility levels, the impact of global climate change, and employment stability concerns. The first chapter of this dissertation analyzes the effects of minute temperature variations on human fertility decisions. The emphasis is placed on the often-neglected role of the daily minimum temperature, which may play a greater role than daily mean temperatures in determining fertility patterns. Our results suggest that the daily mean temperature, the conventional measure of weather, carries a limited degree of importance in explaining the pattern of fertility in Korea, while nights with high minimum temperatures are revealed to lead to elevated future fertility levels that fall within the duration of a typical pregnancy. The results demonstrate the importance of fine-tuning the climatic variables used in analyses and highlight the potential heterogeneous responses to analogous shocks. The second chapter (coauthored with Arnab K. Basu, Nancy H. Chau, Filiz Garip, and Ariel Ortiz-Bobea) examines the role of climatic variations on the family reunification decisions of migrant agricultural workers. We show that shifts in agricultural productivity induced by climatic variation at both the origin and destination are significant drivers of subsequent migration decisions by their spouses. By introducing a data-driven method to minimize nonclassical measurement errors, we find that unfavorable climatic conditions in the origin accelerate family reunification, while similar conditions in the destination act as a deterrent. Tests of the implications of these results show that family separation may serve as a form of insurance against climate-induced risks, adding credence to the hypothesis that migration is a risk-diversification strategy adopted by income-vulnerable households. The third chapter, which is coauthored with Arnab K. Basu and Nancy H. Chau, expands upon the existing framework of analyzing the role and impact of border enforcement policies on international migration and the local labor market. We show that stricter border enforcement is acts as a tax on temporary employment based on circular migration, and incentivizes the reallocation of work along the task spectrum. Employers' dependence on low-wage transient work force diminishes, while more migrants prefer permanent migration, with labor market tightness consequences that favor both native and migrant workers. The final chapter returns to the topic of employment stability and fertility. Specifically, we concentrate on the role of the joint employment stability of spouses in determining higher-order fertility in Korean households. Employing a matching model, we find that the continuation of job stability in a household leads to lower odds of having extra children in the future.

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125 pages


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Agricultural Productivity; Climate Change; Fertility; International Migration; Labor Market


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Committee Chair

Chau, Ho

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Basu, Arnab
Gerarden, Todd

Degree Discipline

Applied Economics and Management

Degree Name

Ph. D., Applied Economics and Management

Degree Level

Doctor of Philosophy

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Government Document




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dissertation or thesis

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