Global Trends in Birth Intervals 1975-2013

John B. Casterline, Ohio State University
Colin Odden, Ohio State University

Birth spacing patterns are a fundamental feature of any reproductive regime, and changes in these patterns can be one source of fertility change. It is surprising, therefore, to discover in the literature of the past decade no comprehensive analysis of trends in birth spacing patterns outside the West. Our principal goal is filling this substantial gap. A secondary goal is to consider, in settings outside Sub-Saharan Africa, Moultrie’s and Timæus’ provocative arguments about “postponement” as a third form (with spacing and stopping) of birth avoidance. We analyze birth history data from four major survey programs -- WFS, DHS, RHS, and PAP -- confined to countries with at least two surveys (288 surveys in 69 countries, conducted from 1975 to 2013). We perform both descriptive analysis (Kaplan-Meier) and hazard regression modeling. To our knowledge, there is no comparable effort to analyze trends in birth spacing patterns spanning the past four decades.

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Presented in Session 181: Reproductive Health and Fertility over Time