This paper uses hazard regression models to assess the impact of experienced infant and child mortality on the risk of subsequent conceptions in Ethiopia. The purpose of this paper is to test for the presence of a fertility response to an infant or child death, net of the effects of truncated breastfeeding on fecundity. Using retrospective birth history data from a national survey in Ethiopia, we find a significantly higher risk of a conception in the months following the death of an index child, even after controlling for postpartum amenorrhoea and breastfeeding status. The fertility response is strongest after the death of the fourth or fifth child, which is when most women in Ethiopia are at or near their desired family size. However, we find no evidence of a fertility response to the death of a nonindex child. We attribute the higher risk of a conception following an index child’s death to the intentional efforts of couples to reduce the waiting time to a next birth and thereby replace the deceased child. However, absent evidence of replacement fertility in response to the death of older nonindex children, we interpret the response to the death of an index child as an emotional response to child loss rather than a conscious strategy to meet a fertility target.
Population Research and Policy Review – Springer Journals
Published: Feb 17, 2007
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