Volume 53, Part 1, 1999

Author Guy Stecklov
Evaluating the economic returns to childbearing in Côte d'Ivoire

While it has been often suggested, most notably by Caldwell, that high fertility in developing countries is motivated by the positive economic returns that children contribute to their parents, empirical evidence to support the hypothesis is limited. This paper describes a method of measuring the economic returns from the average child over the entire parental life-cycle.

The method is then applied to detailed household economic data from Côte d'Ivoire. The results indicate that parents give more to their children than they receive and that the economic returns from children are negative. Overall, we estimate that the average child provides an annual rate of return of roughly - 8 per cent. Our results shed light on how the returns from childbearing vary according to the age of the parents at time of birth.

The results also offer a potential economic explanation of why older couples are often first to adopt modern contraception.
pp. 1-17

Authors Ann Berrington and Ian Diamond
Title Marital dissolution among the 1958 British birth cohort: the role of cohabitation

This paper investigates the effect of previous cohabitation on marital stability among the 1958 British birth cohort. Prospective data from the National Child Development Study are used to investigate the way in which family background factors and early lifecourse experiences, including cohabitation, affect the risk of first marriage dissolution by age 33.

Discrete time logistic regression hazards models are used to analyse the risk of separation in the first eight years of marriage. Many socio-economic and family background factors are found to act through more intermediate determinants, such as age at marriage and the timing of childbearing to affect the risk of separation. Previous cohabitation with another partner and premarital cohabitation are both associated with higher rates of marital breakdown.

The effect of premarital cohabitation is attenuated but remains significant once the characteristics of cohabitors are controlled, and cannot be explained by the longer time spent in a partnership.
pp. 19-38

Authors Kathleen E Kiernan and Andrew J Cherlin
Parental divorce and partnership dissolution in adulthood: evidence from a British cohort study

From a longitudinal survey of a British cohort born in 1958 this study finds that, by age 33, offspring of parents who divorced are more likely to have dissolved their first partnerships.

This finding persists after taking into account age at first partnership, type of first partnership (marital, pre-marital cohabiting union, and cohabiting union), and indicators of class background and childhood and adolescent school achievement and behaviour problems. Some of these factors are associated with partnership dissolution in their own right, but the association between parental divorce and second generation partnership dissolution is largely independent of them.

Demographic factors, including type of and age at first partnership, were important links between parental divorce and partnership dissolution. Moreover, the estimated effects of parental divorce were substantially reduced when the demographic variables were taken into account, suggesting that cohabitation and early partnership may be important pathways through which a parental divorce, or the unmeasured characteristics correlated with it, affect partnership dissolution.
pp. 39-48

Author Daniel Goodkind
Should prenatal sex selection be restricted? Ethical questions and their implications for research and policy

Sex-selective abortion following prenatal sex testing is so blatantly discriminatory that many observers have, understandably, called on governments to condemn and restrict the practice. Yet ethical questions that counterbalance these sentiments have been neglected. Restricting the practice would seem to interfere with reproductive freedoms and maternal empowerment, the twin goals adopted at the recent Cairo conference.

The restrictions may also increase human suffering if sex discrimination is then shifted into the postnatal period. Consideration and empirical testing of this substitutive dynamic has been precluded by limitations in the comparative design of recent research and a lack of appropriate data. Nevertheless, this dynamic has always been presumed to exist by pro-choice advocates.

Moreover, extending anti-discriminatory legislation to the prenatal realm may awaken and justify similar demands among other disadvantaged groups whose foetal counterparts have previously engendered less public sympathy, which may result in further restrictions on abortion.
pp. 49-61

Author Øystein Kravdal
Does marriage require a stronger economic underpinning than informal cohabitation

A large proportion of cohabitors in the Statistics Norway Omnibus Surveys of 1996 reported economic reasons for their hesitation to marry, and in particular the costs of the wedding. In line with this, the Norwegian Family and Occupation Survey of 1988 revealed effects both of women's cumulated income and men's non-employment on the actual choice of union type.

Also some other evidence suggests that affordability matters, although there are plausible alternative interpretations. On the other hand, several estimates suggest that economic strength does not induce marriage. Since there also has been no deterioration of young adults' economic situation in Norway, except for the delay of economic independence owing to longer college enrolment, one can hardly claim that lack of affordability is a dominating force behind the massive drift away from marriage.

The analysis is anchored in a theoretical framework that may prove useful in other studies of cohabitation as an alternative to marriage.

Author Michele Gragnolati, Irma T Elo and Noreen Goldman
New insights into the Far Eastern pattern of mortality

Some of the highest levels of excess mortality of males found anywhere in the world were present in several Far Eastern populations during the 1960s and 1970s but have progressively disappeared since that time.

This study uses cause-of-death data to determine the disease responsible for the existence and attenuation of these sex differences in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan. The results indicate that respiratory tuberculosis is the single most important underlying cause of the existence and attenuation of the pattern, that the role of liver disease is not clear cut, and that other causes (such as cardiovascular diseases) are also important. A review of numerous risk factors yields no compelling reason why these populations experienced such large sex differences in mortality.

However, it seems likely that public health and biomedical improvements (particularly those related to the reduction in mortality from tuberculosis) played a critical role in the attenuation of the Far Eastern mortality pattern.
pp. 81-95

Author France Meslé
Classifying causes of death according to an aetiological axis

The analysis of mortality by cause usually relies on groups of causes created by consolidating items from the International Classification of Diseases (ICD).

However, this type of grouping is not a very efficient means of describing the real trends in pathological processes. In this paper an alternative classification based on aetiological definitions is proposed. Redistributing deaths between eight aetiological categories offers a different perception of the main determinants of health transition and of mortality prospects.

It also provides a view of inter-country differences which may help explain recent variation in trends. It is regrettable that, in the tenth revision of the International Classification of Diseases, the World Health Organisation (WHO) did not adopt the idea of a dual classification system combining an anatomical axis with an aetiological one. The present paper, it is hoped, will encourage further developments in this direction.
pp. 97-105