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Scars from a Previous Epidemic among White and Black Women: Social Proximity to Zika and Fertility Intentions During the Covid-19 Pandemic

Leticia J. Marteleto, University of Texas at Austin
Molly Dondero, American University
Andrew Koepp, University of Texas at Austin

The Covid-19 pandemic has led to rises in morbidity and mortality, but its demographic consequences may not end there. Since the pandemic began, the public has experienced tremendous uncertainty and worry about SARS-CoV-2 infection. During periods of extreme uncertainty, people may revise their fertility intentions, drawing on their prior experiences during prior epidemics. To investigate this possibility, we examine whether women’s social proximity to Zika during the Zika epidemic predict their fertility intentions during the Covid-19 pandemic. We apply Structural Equation Models on data from 3,998 women in Brazil to understand whether a novel infectious disease outbreak left lasting imprints that shape fertility intentions during a subsequent novel infectious disease outbreak, the Covid-19 pandemic, and whether these scarring effects operate differently by race. Results demonstrate a scarring effect such that a woman’s social proximity to Zika directly predicts fertility intentions three years later, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Findings also show that Zika social proximity is associated with increased perceived risk of Covid-19 infection and worry about pregnancy and fetal complications from Covid-19. Broadly, our findings speak to the transformative consequences of novel infectious disease outbreaks that go beyond mortality and health.

Keywords: Fertility and childbirth, Inequality, Structural equation modelling, COVID-19

See paper.

  Presented in Session 171. COVID-19 and Fertility