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Birth Spacing, Child Survival and Fertility Decisions: Analysis of Causal Mechanismsa

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  • Soest, A.H.O. van
  • Saha, U.R.

    (Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research)

Abstract

Abstract: We jointly analyze infant mortality, birth spacing, and total fertility of children in a rural area in Bangladesh, using longitudinal data from the Health and Demographic Surveillance System (HDSS) in Matlab. To distinguish causal mechanisms from unobserved heterogeneity and reverse causality, we use dynamic panel data techniques. We compare the results in a treatment area with extensive health services and a comparison area with standard health services. Simulations using the estimated models show how fertility and mortality can be reduced by, for example, breaking the causal link that leads to a short interval after a child has died. Eliminating this effect would reduce fertility and increase birth intervals, resulting in a fall in mortality by 0.14 and 2.45 per 1000 live births in treatment and comparison area, respectively. The effects of the numbers of (surviving) boys and girls on birth spacing provide evidence of son preference: having more boys has a stronger effect on the birth interval than having more girls, though both effects are significantly positive. A simulation suggests that if families would behave as if their all children were sons, fertility levels would be reduced by 3.5% and 5.7% in the ICDDR,B and comparison areas, respectively.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research in its series Discussion Paper with number 2012-018.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:dgr:kubcen:2012018

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Web page: http://center.uvt.nl

Related research

Keywords: child mortality; birth spacing; fertility; dynamic panel data models; Bangladesh;

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  1. Bhalotra, Sonia & Valente, Christine & van Soest, Arthur, 2010. "The puzzle of Muslim advantage in child survival in India," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 191-204, March.
  2. Pritchett, Lant H. & DEC, 1994. "Desired fertility and the impact of population policies," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1273, The World Bank.
  3. Bhalotra, Sonia & Soest, Arthur van, 2008. "Birth-spacing, fertility and neonatal mortality in India: Dynamics, frailty, and fecundity," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 143(2), pages 274-290, April.
  4. Ben-Porath, Yoram, 1976. "Fertility Response to Child Mortality: Micro Data from Israel," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(4), pages S163-78, August.
  5. Train,Kenneth E., 2009. "Discrete Choice Methods with Simulation," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521766555, October.
  6. Michael Koenig & James Phillips & Oona Campbell & Stan D'Souza, 1990. "Birth Intervals and Childhood Mortality in Rural Bangladesh," Demography, Springer, vol. 27(2), pages 251-265, May.
  7. Jane Miller & James Trussell & Anne Pebley & Barbara Vaughan, 1992. "Birth spacing and child mortality in bangladesh and the Philippines," Demography, Springer, vol. 29(2), pages 305-318, May.
  8. Wiji Arulampalam & Sonia Bhalotra, 2006. "Sibling death clustering in India: state dependence "versus" unobserved heterogeneity," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 169(4), pages 829-848.
  9. Siân Curtis & Ian Diamond & John McDonald, 1993. "Birth interval and family effects on postneonatal mortality in Brazil," Demography, Springer, vol. 30(1), pages 33-43, February.
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