DECRG Kuala Lumpur Seminar Series: Fertility Choices and Inter-Ethnic Resource Competition in Malaysia
June 23, 2016DECRG Kuala Lumpur Seminar Series

In ethnically diverse countries, negative economic shocks can increase competition for limited private and public resources and exacerbate conflict along inter-ethnic lines. Using variation in fertility rates induced by the Chinese lunar calendar, we document a 14-percent rise in births among ethnically Chinese Malaysians in dragon years, which are considered auspicious. Malays in turn reduce their fertility, and this reduction is greatest in majority Chinese areas. Moreover, we find that the Malay response was muted in areas where private as well as public resources were more abundant. These results reveal that households are forward-looking in their fertility decisions, and they indicate the role of governments to reduce ethnic tension through policies that increase public resources and household incomes.

  • Emily Beam is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Economics at the National University of Singapore, and she will join the University of Vermont as an Assistant Professor of Economics in August 2016. Her research interests are in labor and development economics, with a particular focus on employment and education policy, migration, and economics of the family. She is currently conducting impact evaluations of summer employment and teacher placement programs in the Philippines, as well as field experiments on the relative returns to education and experience among young job-seekers. Dr. Beam received her Ph.D. in economics and public policy from the University of Michigan in 2013 and her B.S. in economics, mathematics, and Spanish from the University of Michigan in 2006
  • The DECRG Kuala Lumpur Seminar Series is hosted by the World Bank's Development Research Group (DECRG) based in the World Bank Malaysia office. The series invites leading researchers in development economics and public policy to present their recent work in an academic-style seminar format.
  • WHEN: Thursday, 23 June 2016; 12:30 - 2:00 pm
  • WHERE: World Bank Malaysia Office, Level 3, Sasana Kijang, No. 2, Jalan Dato’ Onn
  • RSVP: Kindly RSVP to Ms. Stella Ambrose ( and provide your name, Malaysian I/C no. or passport no., and affiliation by Wednesday 22nd June 2016.