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Birth intervals

Hobcraft, J. and McDonald, J. (1984) Birth intervals WFS Comparative Studies (World Fertility Survey), 28

Record type: Article


This paper presents cross-national summaries of birth intervals in 28 countries in Africa, Asia, Americas. The tables in the report reflect results from life-table calculations for cohorts of women who achieved a particular parity within a clearly defined period. Despite the intercountry diversity, all but 3 countries had a median age at 1st birth of 19-21 years. The determination of 1st birth intervals defined as the interval from 1st union to 1st birth is complicated by the occurrence of births before marriage. At least 10% of women in most countries surveyed report a 1st birth within 9 months of marriage. Premarital births increase in frequency with increased exposure through higher age at marriage. Trends in proportions having 1st births within 9 and 18 months of 1st union are remarkably stable over time. There has been a steady rise in the proportion having a 1st birth within 9 months of 1st union in Korea, Malaysia, Panama, and Kenya, whereas there is some evidence of a decline in Guyana, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago. Intervals to 2nd and higher order births are typically much longer than 1st birth intervals, largely due to the period of infecundity following a birth and its prolongation through breastfeeding. In addition, 2nd order intervals seem to be shorter than higher order ones. Several countries show little differentiation by birth order, however, generally reflecting a lack of contraceptive fertility control. This occurs in Kenya, Lesotho, Senegal, Sudan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Pakistan, where 10% or less of currently married women practice contraception. On the other hand, evidence of a clear and progressive control of fertility with increasing birth orders tends to occur for countries with a total fertility of 4.5 or less. For a substantial proportion of countries where fertility control is well established, age appears to be more important than current parity in determining parity progression. This finding suggests that the later a woman starts childbearing, the sooner she will stop and the lower her final parity will be.

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Published date: March 1984
Additional Information: International Statistical Institute, Voorburg, Netherlands. Cross National Summaries.


Local EPrints ID: 34288
PURE UUID: 86c5a35f-3e1b-4d5c-b3b9-743a0e1fe85a

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Date deposited: 10 Apr 2008
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 15:50

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Author: J. Hobcraft
Author: J. McDonald

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