November 05, 2014
News /
Posted by NCID

Jaime Millán, a post-doctoral fellow at Universidad Carlos III in Madrid, presented his efforts to uncover whether armed violence affect incentives of young women regarding the timing of first pregnancies. Looking at specifically Colombia and drug-related homicides, Millán finds that increases in violence ultimately encourage teenage women to have their first child sooner, while decreasing the likelihood of mothers to have a second child.


“This seminar is about the indirect cost of conflict and violence. What I am trying to estimate is the effect of homicides in a municipality on the decision of becoming a young mothers in Colombia”, Millán said in the beginning of his presentation.


Nested within his research, Millán accurately isolates drug-related violence as the causal mechanism. By observing how changes in price in European and American markets coincide with violence in specific areas of Colombia, he establishes a direct link between international drug-trade and violence at the municipality level. This adds context to his broader findings, identifying the drug-trade as having discernable effects on fertility rates and the behavioral rationale of young women.


Constructing a robust statistical model, Millán shows that “a one standard-deviation increase in the homicide rate increases the probability that a woman will become pregnant before she is 19 years old by 2.65 percentage points.” In basic terms, he has demonstrated that drug violence has a positive effect on the rate of teenage pregnancy in Colombia.


Looking further into the calculus of teenage women and why they would choose to have children, he concludes that “when you increase the violence in a municipality, those agents in that municipality have less incentives to invest in human capital, which means the costs of having a baby when you are young are smaller.”