Title: Live Births and Fertility amidst the Zika Virus Epidemic in Brazil
Abstract: In late 2015, the Brazilian Ministry of Health classified the increase in congenital malformations associated with the Zika Virus (ZIKV) a public health emergency. The risk of ZIKV-related congenital syndrome posed an exogenous threat to reproductive outcomes that could result in declining numbers of live births and potentially fertility. Using 2014-2016 monthly microdata on live births from the Brazilian Information System on Live Births, in this talk I examine live births and fertility trends amidst the ZIKV epidemic in Brazil. Findings suggest a decline in live births that is stratified across socioeconomic status and geographic lines, especially nine months after the call for pregnancy postponement. While declines in total fertility rates were small, fertility trends estimated by age and socioeconomic status suggest important differences in how Zika might have impacted Brazil’s fertility structure. Further findings using monthly data by municipality suggest that the epidemic resulted in a significant decline in fertility even when controlling for characteristics of the municipality. The findings highlight the importance of understanding how exposure to the risk of a health threat directed at fetuses has led to declines in fertility.