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On Postponement and Birth Intervals

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  • Ian M. Timæus
  • Tom A. Moultrie

Abstract

Much of the literature on fertility transition presumes that birth control is practiced either to limit family size or to space births. This article argues that women also use birth control to postpone pregnancy. Postponement is not synonymous with spacing. It arises when women delay their next birth for indefinite periods for reasons unrelated to the age of their youngest child, but without deciding not to have any more children. Postponement has a distinctive impact on the shape of birth-interval distributions that differs from the impacts of family size limitation, birth spacing, or a mixture of the two behaviors. Some populations, such as that in South Africa, have developed fertility regimes characterized by birth intervals far longer than can be accounted for by birth spacing. Postponement of further childbearing that eventually becomes permanent may be an important driver of the transition to lower fertility in sub-Saharan Africa. Copyright (c) 2008 The Population Council, Inc..

Suggested Citation

  • Ian M. Timæus & Tom A. Moultrie, 2008. "On Postponement and Birth Intervals," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 34(3), pages 483-510.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:popdev:v:34:y:2008:i:3:p:483-510
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Douglas Anderton, 1989. "Comment on Knodel’s “starting, stopping, and spacing during the early stages of fertility transition”," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 26(3), pages 467-470, August.
    2. S. Morgan, 1982. "Parity-specific fertility intentions and uncertainty: the United States, 1970 to 1976," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 19(3), pages 315-334, August.
    3. John Knodel, 1987. "Starting, stopping, and spacing during the early stages of fertility transition: The experience of German village populations in the 18th and 19th centuries," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 24(2), pages 143-162, May.
    4. S. Morgan, 1981. "Intention and uncertainty at later stages of childbearing: the united states 1965 and 1970," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 18(3), pages 267-285, August.
    5. Douglas Anderton & Lee Bean, 1985. "Birth spacing and fertility limitation: a behavioral analysis of a nineteenth century frontier population," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 22(2), pages 169-183, May.
    6. Peter McDonald & John Knodel, 1989. "The impact of changes in birth spacing on age at last birth: A response to Anderton," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 26(3), pages 471-472, August.
    7. Helen Ware, 1976. "Motivations for the use of birth control: Evidence from West Africa," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 13(4), pages 479-493, November.
    8. James Trussell & Charles Hammerslough, 1983. "A hazards-Model analysis of the covariates of infant and child mortality in Sri Lanka," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 20(1), pages 1-26, February.
    9. Etienne Walle, 1992. "Fertility transition, conscious choice, and numeracy," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 29(4), pages 487-502, November.
    10. Pascal Whelpton, 1964. "Trends and differentials in the spacing of births," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 1(1), pages 83-93, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kathryn Grace & Stuart Sweeney, 2016. "Ethnic Dimensions of Guatemala’s Stalled Transition: A Parity-Specific Analysis of Ladino and Indigenous Fertility Regimes," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 53(1), pages 117-137, February.
    2. repec:eee:jhecon:v:57:y:2018:i:c:p:221-235 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:dem:demres:v:37:y:2017:i:59 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. repec:spr:demogr:v:55:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s13524-017-0638-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Branson, Nicola & Byker, Tanya, 2018. "Causes and consequences of teen childbearing: Evidence from a reproductive health intervention in South Africa," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 221-235.
    6. repec:dau:papers:123456789/11404 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Leontine Alkema & Adrian Raftery & Patrick Gerland & Samuel Clark & François Pelletier & Thomas Buettner & Gerhard Heilig, 2011. "Probabilistic Projections of the Total Fertility Rate for All Countries," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 48(3), pages 815-839, August.

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