Volume 50, Part 2, 1996

Authors Barbara S Okun, James Trussell and Barbara Vaughan
Using fertility surveys to evaluate an indirect method for detecting fertility control

This paper is the latest report from a research project whose overall goal is to evaluate the performance of two indirect methods - Coale and Trussell's model (M&m) and Cohort Parity Analysis (CPA) - used in the study of fertility control in populations for which direct information on the use of birth control is lacking.

In this paper we evaluate CPA, using data from 32 countries that participated in the World Fertility Survey. We show that in actual application CPA is so sensitive to mis-specification of the model population, and there is so much heterogeneity among target populations in terms of non-volitional proximate determinants, that it is not possible find a model population that can correctly estimate the extent of control in the target populations, or even in a subset of target populations defined by region. In many instances CPA is unreliable. This work confirms the central findings of our earlier simulation study.

Author Nigel Crook
Population and poverty in classical theory: testing a structural model for India

There has for many years been debate over the relationships between population growth rates and poverty. India is a country which provides a good testing ground for hypotheses about this relationship because since independence a relatively high proportion of the population have lived in poverty; and there also exist reasonable data. This paper develops a simple structural model to investigate the relationship between population growth and poverty in particular, testing a series of hypotheses developed from the work of Marx and Malthus.

The data are analysed at state level, and attention is drawn to the problems that this might cause as behaviour is typically determined at the individual household level. The results show that agricultural productivity and the process of landlessness are better predictors at a state level than the population growth rate. It is argued that the results fit better with the views of Marx than those of Malthus.

Authors A Dharmalingham and S Philip Morgan
Women's work, autonomy, and birth control: evidence from two South Indian villages

In this study we contrast two South Indian villages which offer women very different employment opportunities. Many women in Village I roll beedis, which are crude hand-rolled cigarettes. The structure of beedi work was designed to meet the needs of the beedi contractor, but inadvertently it has provided women with substantial autonomy . In Village II very few women work for pay. We argue that these different employment opportunities affect women's autonomy, which in turn influences important demographic outcomes.

More precisely, we argue that greater autonomy will increase contraceptive use among women who want no more children. We find strong support for this hypothesis. But, because there are few competing employment opportunities in Village II, women in that village have received substantially more education than those in Village I. This higher level of education is also associated with great contraceptive use. Thus, overall, the level of contraceptive use does not vary greatly between villages. More generally, this study shows that fertility decline occurs, and that low fertility can exist, in very different settings.
pp. 187-201

Author Catherine Panter-Brick
Proximate determinants of birth seasonality and conception failure in Nepal

Research on the underlying causes of population variation in levels of natural fertility has recently been given new impetus with the development of endocrinological measures to track biological variation in human fecundity. Birth seasonality was examined for a non-contracepting population with low fertility and seasonally heavy workloads in rural Nepal. Reproductive histories were collected from 1983 to 1993, totalling 1,829 live births (1,532 with known month of birth) to 521 women of average parity 3.5 (SD 1.5) births. The seasonal pattern of conceptions was examined in light of previously collected data on marriage patterns, climatic seasonality, subsistence workloads, energy balance, nursing patterns, lactational amenorrhoea, and endrocrinological measures of prolactin and ovarian function. Both the frequency distribution of live births and a life-table analysis of women's exposure to the risk of conception show significant seasonality.

The size of seasonal variation, with peak conception rates raised by 98 per cent, is just below that reported for Bangladesh. Two troughs were observed, one in the winter, the other in mid-monsoon. The former is likely to be associated with behavioural variables affecting intercourse, namely the temporary separation of spouses. The latter coincides with suppressed ovulation and low progesterone profiles, and indicates a temporary loss of fecundity for women in negative energy balance during the monsoon agricultural season. This small-scale but intensive case study of a seasonal limitation to rates of conception illustrates how endocrinological data can be used to distinguish between the biological and behavioural determinants of fertility in human populations.

Author Sara Randall
Whose reality? Local perceptions of fertility versus demographic analysis

Single-round demographic surveys of three Malian populations showed substantial fertility differentials, with much lower fertility in the two nomadic pastoral Kel Tamasheq populations than among the sedentary cultivating Bambara. Demographic analysis explained these fertility differentials by different marriage patterns, dominated by the structural effects of Kel Tamasheq monogamy which maintains a large group of currently unmarried women.

This contrasts with the Kel Tamasheq's own preoccupations with their low fertility which they ascribe to pathologically induced sub-fecundity and sterility. Parity progression ratios and birth-interval distributions are used to examine the degree to which the Tamasheq perceptions of their own fertility behaviour can be demonstrated by using the demographic data. The importance of the different perspectives and outcomes is discussed, with the need for taking into account local concerns both in analysis and ultimate interventions.

Authors Samson W Wasao and Joseph F Donnermeyer
An analysis of factors related to parity among the Amish in northeast Ohio

This paper examines fertility in terms of parity or number of children in a family among three Amish church affiliations in the Greater Holmes County Amish settlement in northeast Ohio, USA. The church affiliations essentially constitute three religious groups with common cultural characteristics, as well as some different values and beliefs which set each one apart from the others. Moreover, family size among the three Amish affiliations (Andy Weaver, Old Order and New Order) can be placed and analysed along a conservative-liberal continuum respectively, by whether or not husbands are engaged primarily on farm or non-farm occupations and according to the status of husbands as church leaders.

Findings from the logisitic regression analyses are that family size or parity is highest among the conservative group (Andy Weaver) and lowest among the liberal (New Order) group. In each of the three groups, even after controlling for age of marriage and marriage duration, parity levels in households with husbands engaged in farming are higher among families in which husbands are church elders (ie bishops, deacons; and ministers).

The results are discussed in terms of general social and cultural changes within Amish society and the adoption of modern family planning methods within Amish affiliations and church districts.

Author Peter Skold
From inoculation to vaccination: smallpox in Sweden in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries

Smallpox was a dominating cause of death in eighteenth-century Sweden. Inoculation, introduced in 1756, was never widespread. The districts with the highest mortality at the end of the century were more prone to accept vaccination when it was introduced in 1801. However, within 15 years almost 80 per cent of all new-born children were vaccinated.

The organisation of vaccination was efficient, vaccinators were appointed in all 2,500 parishes in Sweden and a report system gave all the necessary information. The last step was taken in 1816 when vaccination became compulsory. Before vaccination, 95 per cent of small pox deaths were those of children, but after 1801 It became as common among adults. Due to problems with re-vaccination adults faced a much greater risk of infection during the last epidemic of 1873-75 than during the previous century.

After the 1880s smallpox became an uncommon disease and smallpox deaths were rare.

Authors Basia Zaba and Patricia H David
Fertility and the distribution of child mortality risk among women: an illustrative analysis

A new method that does not rely on standard social class categorisations is proposed for measuring and comparing the concentration of mortality risk among families in different populations. The new measures can be obtained directly from aggregated data. These measures are used to explore the extent of death-clustering in families, and to show that inter-woman variability in risk is more important than inter-birth variability.

Parity is a potential confounder of measures of death-clustering, since it contributes to an observable increase in risk; classification by parity provides a convenient way of measuring the over-dispersion of the distribution of deaths between women.