Volume 51, Part 2, 1997

Author Zhongwei Zao
Long-term mortality patterns in Chinese history: Evidence from a recorded clan population

Human populations have lived on the Earth for millions of years, yet the study of population history only began to be established in the mid-twentieth century. In spite of the considerable progress of historical demography which has since been made, there have been hardly any detailed studies of fertility and mortality before the sixteenth century.

This study, by analysing a set of Chinese genealogies, examines long-term mortality patterns in a selected clan population over a period of more than 1,000 years. The result shows that, in this selected population, mortality fluctuated around a relatively high level and showed no secular change over the very long period studied. The study also provides a comparison between the mortality patterns found in the selected population and those observed in a much larger Chinese lineage population, as well as those recorded among the British elites born between the sixteenth and the early nineteenth century.

Based on the findings of this research, the paper presents some tentative suggestions about long-term mortality changes in Chinese history.

Authors Leo Driedger and Shavia S Halli
Pro life or pro choice: politics of career and homemaking

The authors constructed empirical homemaking and career typologies to test the validity of Luker's contention that the abortion debate is not about the welfare of the fetus but about the status and roles of women. We found that both homemakers and career-oriented women existed in a North American sample of Mennonites. Homemakers, who were more religious, less educated and less individualistic, were significantly more pro-life, as expected.

The career-oriented were more educated and more individualistic, and they were also significantly more pro-choice. Individualism was the most significant predictor of pro-choice attitudes on all six dependent variables. However, ideology in the form of the Anabapatist religious beliefs found in this sample of Mennonites, was the most consistent and the most significant predictor of pro-life attitudes.

Anabaptist beliefs, cradled in a homemaking context, correlated negatively with individualism, career-making, education, and socio-economic status. As Tribe's findings suggested, religion can be a strong counterforce to Luker's emphasis on status, which also correlates strongly with pro-life attitudes on abortion.

Author S Sudha
Family size, sex composition and children's education: ethnic differentials over development in Peninsular Malaysia

This study examines the effect of family size and sex composition on educational attainment among children of three ethnic groups across two generations of Peninsular Malaysia, to demonstrate that extra-familial factors such as economic development and education policy will affect relations hitherto conceptualised mainly at the family level.

Specifically, it is argued that a negative family size-schooling relationship will emerge only at a development stage when education is an important qualification and costs of schooling are relatively high; and may not emerge at all among those subgroups whose schooling is subsidised by the state. Results of multivariate statistical analyses using 1976 and 1988 survey data show no relationship between family size and education among the older generation.

The younger generation shows a negative relationship, but only among Chinese and Indians, for whom schooling was not state-subsidised. Among Malays, who received affirmative action benefits, there is no such relationship. Though girls get less schooling on average than boys, the educational disadvantages of increasing family size do not appear to be restricted to girls.

Author Deborah Balk
Defying gender norms in rural Bangladesh: a social demographic analysis

This study explores the social and demographic determinants of women's decision-making authority within the home and mobility outside of the home in staunchly patriarchal rural Bangladesh, in an attempt to understand better which women defy existing gender norms and why they do so. Although the characteristics of individual women matter, institutional determinants - operating at several levels - are the most salient features in determining who defies gender norms in rural Bangladesh.

I find that about 25 per cent of the explainable variance in mobility and authority can be explained by individual level attributes - age, education, residing with her in-laws - and that 75 per cent comes from a variety of broad-ranging aspects of gender norms at the household, village, and regional level. Contrary to the assumption often underlying demographic analysis of women's status, I find that those factors which determine a woman's authority within her home do not necessarily determine her mobility in public.

Further, characteristics that are often identified as being a catalyst for social change but which are closely related to social class, such as education, may work to reinforce rather than change existing gender norms.

Authors David K Guilkey and Susan Jayne
Fertility transition in Zimbabwe: determinants of contraceptive use and method choice

The determinants of contraceptive method choice in Zimbabwe are examined within the context of a structural equations model that controls for both supply and demand factors than can influence the choice. The data set used in the empirical work is the 1989 Zimbabwe Demographic and Health Survey. Among the policy related variables that have contributed to Zimbabwe's highly successful programme, the multivariate results reveal the importance of wife's education, husband's education, family planning messages, and the presence of a community based distributor of contraceptives.

Author Monica Das Gupta
Socio-economic status and clustering of child deaths in rural Punjab

In this paper alternative models for testing for child death clustering are explored, using data from Punjab. Significant evidence of clustering is found only amongst the lower socio-economic and educational groups. The majority of these families succeed in avoiding child-loss despite their social and economic disadvantages, while a few experience multiple child loss. As maternal education and socio-economic status rise, the negative deviance in factors related to child mortality appears to be removed. The extent of clustering is quite high in this population, indicating substantial potential for reducing child mortality by focusing services on high-risk households. Family building factors such as short birth intervals and high parity births do not raise child mortality when families are disaggregated by level of risk. They seem to be an effect rather than a cause of clustering of child deaths

Author Jonathan Haughton
Falling fertility in Vietnam

According to data collected by the Vietnam Living Standards Survey 1992-93, total fertility was 3.2. This level is low for such a poor country, and reflects continual fall from 5.6 in 1979, uninterrupted by the rapid transition from a planned to a market economy. Oddly, the proximate causes of the low fertility, including contraceptive user and abortion rates, imply a value close to 2. One explanation may be that households overstate the degree to which they use contraception. To maintain the momentum of falling fertility, a more user-oriented approach to family planning is required, offering a wider variety of contraceptive options.

Author Ulla Larsen
Fertility in Tanzania: do contraception and sub-fertility matter?

An analysis of the 1991/92 Demographic and Health Survey showed that fertility in Tanzania is currently influenced both by contraception and sub-fertility. In the sample analysed, 25 per cent of parous women had used a contraceptive, but only 3 per cent had done so before their first child was born. Contraceptors took longer to conceive. The suppressing effect of contraception on fertility was confirmed by a multivariate analysis. There was also evidence that sub-fertility is prevalent in Tanzania. Parous women who had never used a contraceptive had relatively long waiting times to conception in Tanzania compared to women in a range of countries in Africa, Latin America, South Asia and the Middle East. If fertility in Tanzania were reduced to the level in the neighbouring country of Burundi, and all other factors remained the same, total fertility would increase by more than one child.
pp. 213-220

Author Zhenchao Qian
Progression to second birth in China: a study of four rural counties

Using a survey from four rural counties, this paper examines the progression to a second birth and the sex ratio at second birth. Women whose first-born is a boy are less likely to have a second child and the sex ratio at second birth is normal, while women whose first-born is a girl are much more likely to have a second child and the sex ratio at second birth is very high.

Furthermore, women's educational attainment and county of residence affect the sex ratio at second birth. The author speculates that the high sex ratio at second birth is more likely to be achieved through sex-selective abortion for women with higher educational attainment, and for women with lower educational attainment by such other means as under-reporting of female births and giving up female babies for adoption. County of residence has the greatest impact on the percentage of women who have a second birth and the sex ratio at second birth. This effect relates to the way the family planning policy is enforced in each county.

The paper suggests that local family planning offices benefit financially by receiving fines and fees from couples who violate the family planning policy, and use the money to enforce the policy among those who cannot afford the fines.
pp. 221-228