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Is there a childbearing season?

  • Arnaud Régnier-Loilier
  • Jean-Marc Rohrbasser
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    In the 17th century in France, there were more births between January and April, and fewer between May and December. Twice as many children were born in March as in June. This pattern of births was long thought to be a product of nature, with the increase in conceptions from April being linked to spring and the increase in temperature. In reality, it was linked to the seasonality of marriages and to the religious calendar, since sexual relations and weddings were forbidden during Lent and Advent. The seasonality of births became less marked in the 19th and 20th centuries, and the birth peak moved from winter to spring. These changes reflect a shift in behaviours, notably the less strict observance of religious precepts. Today, there is just one birth peak at the end of September, linked to conceptions during the New Year festive period which are twice as frequent as on a normal day of the year, resulting in a surplus of births and of induced abortions.

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    Paper provided by Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED) in its series Population and Societies with number 474.

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    Date of creation: Jan 2011
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    Handle: RePEc:idg:posoce:474
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    1. Henri Leridon, 2010. "Human fecundity: situation and outlook," Population and Societies 471, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED).
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