Volume 55, Part 3, 2001

Author Alice Reid
Neonatal mortality and stillbirths in early twentieth century Derbyshire, England

Neonatal mortality and stillbirths are recognised to be subject to similar influences, but survival after a successful live birth is usually considered in isolation of foetal wastage. Moreover, individual-level data on age-specific influences and causes of death in a historical context are rare.

This paper uses an unusual data set to compare the influence on neonatal mortality and stillbirths in early twentieth century Derbyshire, England. Multivariate hazard and logistic analyses are performed to examine the relative roles of various social, environmental, and demographic factors. The influences on and causal structures of neonatal mortality and stillbirths emerge as broadly similar, with previous reproductive history linked to a considerable amount of variation.

The clustering of endogenous deaths was much greater than the clustering of exogenous and post-neonatal deaths, probably reflecting the cause-of-death structure and the relatively healthy social and environmental position of early twentieth century Derbyshire. 
pp. 213-232

Authors Mark VanLandingham and Charles Hirschman  
Socio-economic status and divorce in first marriages in Finland 1991-93

Before the demographic transition in Thailand, fertility was high, but not uniformly so. As in other pre-transition settings, Thai fertility responded to pressures and opportunities created by socioeconomic structure and land availability.

Drawing upon provincial data from the 1947 and 1960 censuses of Thailand, we find a strong 'frontier effect' on Thai fertility in the 1950s. Fertility was higher in sparsely settled frontier provinces and lower in provinces with higher population density relative to cultivatable land.

This finding is robust and holds up with controls for agricultural employment, land quality, and the sex ratio (an indicator of sex-selective migration). The effect of population pressure lowers the likelihood of marriage and of marital fertility. The findings from Thailand are consistent with the research of Easterlin on the nineteenth century United States and with other pre-transition societies. We suggest how demographic transition theory might be broadened to include fertility dynamics in pre-transition societies. 
pp. 233-248

Authors Jan M. Hoem, Alexia Prskawetz and Gerda Neyer
Autonomy or conservative adjustment? The effect of public policies and educational attainment on third births in Austria, 1975-96

The standardized rate of third births declined by over 50 percent in Austria between the late 1970s and the mid -1990s. The third birth was also postponed gradually over the years until 1991-92, after which the tempo of childbearing suddenly increased in response to a change in the parental-leave policy. This new policy inadvertently favoured women who had their second or subsequent child shortly after their previous one.

We cannot find any indication that the general decline in third births can be seen as a consequence of women's increasing independence from their husbands at the stage of life we study. Furthermore, it still seems to be more difficult to combine motherhood and labour-force participation in Austria than in Sweden, which is a leader in reducing this incompatibility.

These developments reflect the tension between advancing gender equality and the dominance of traditional norms in Austria. 
pp. 249-261

Author John Bongaarts
Household size and composition in the developing world in the 1990s. 

This study uses data from recent household surveys in 43 developing countries to describe the main dimensions of household size and composition in the developing world. Average household size varies only modestly among regions, ranging from 5.6 in the Near East/North Africa to 4.8 in Latin America.

These averages are similar to levels observed in the second half of the nineteenth century in Europe and North America. About four out of five members of the household are part of the nuclear family of the head of the household. Household size is found to be positively associated with the level of fertility and the mean age at marriage, and inversely associated with the level of marital disruption.

An analysis of trends and differentials in household size suggests that convergence to smaller and predominantly nuclear households is proceeding slowly in contemporary developing countries.
pp. 263-279

Authors Patrick Lusyne, Hilary Page and John Lievens
Mortality following conjugal bereavement, Belgium 1991-96: The unexpected effect of education

This paper examines excess mortality following spousal bereavement by time since bereavement, sex, age, and education.

The main hypothesis challenged is that higher education buffers the harmful effects of spousal loss. Using a log-rate model, death-rate ratios (widowed/married) are estimated for 49,849 and 126,746 Belgian widowers and widows and an equal number of non-bereaved controls matched to the bereaved on their socio-demographic characteristics.

The hypothesis that the more educated suffer less excess mortality is not supported. Although higher educational levels are associated with lower mortality in general, they do not alleviate the effects of bereavement. On the contrary, in the period immediately following spousal loss, the more highly educated seem to have more, rather than less, excess mortality.

Three possible arguments are suggested to account for this: education-related differences in the partner-relationship, structural differences in the availability of appropriate social support, and cultural differences in potential support networks. 
pp. 281-289

Author Kathryn M. Yount
Excess mortality of girls in the Middle East in the 1970s and 1980s: Patterns, correlates and gaps in research

Comparative research on girls' excess mortality in the Middle East is rare. Estimates from the United Nations suggest that absolute excess mortality of girls was not universal in the 1970s and was uncommon by the 1980s. Compared with historical Northwest Europe at similar levels of boys' under-five mortality, however, girls under-five mortality was high in both periods. Studies of the allocation of food and health care suggest that parents invested less and provided less curative care to girls than boys where girls' excess mortality was greatest. Urbanization and women's relative economic opportunity accounts for much of the variation in relative mortality.

Unexplained excess mortality of girls in the Middle East compared with historical Northwest Europe may be attributable to differences in socio-cultural, political, and economic systems that influence the forms of discrimination exercised against girls: however, inadequate measurement of these variables limits their consideration in comparative research.
pp. 291-308

Authors Jane Falkingham and Arjan Gjonça
Fertility transition in Communist Albania, 1950-90

In 1945, at the end of the Second World War, Albania had the highest fertility in Europe with an average of more than six live births per woman. However, when Albania emerged from behind the 'olive curtain' in 1990, fertility had fallen to three children per woman, despite a pro-natalist environment and in the virtual absence of contraception and abortion. Nevertheless, after five decades, Albania's position at the top of the European fertility league remains unchanged. This paper documents the fertility transition in Albania during the period 1950-90 and places the demographic results in the context of recent socio-economic and cultural change.
pp. 309-318

Author William Lavely, Jianke Li and Jianghong Li
Sex preference for children in a Meifu Li community in Hainan, China

Sex preferences for children are contingent on institutional and economic contexts, including family system. While the patrilineal joint family system of the Han Chinese tends to devalue daughters, the family systems of many of China's southern minorities are conducive to female autonomy and more equal sex preferences. The Li of Hainan Island provide an example.

We examined household registers and surveyed women in a relatively isolated highland township inhabited by the Meifu, a Li sub-group. The Meifu depend largely on swidden agriculture, permit considerable sexual freedom to adolescent females, and, as expected, have more equal sex ratios among their children than other Hainan populations.

There was a tendency for a preference for males in the one hamlet in the community with an exceptional endowment of irrigated land, suggesting that sex preferences are sensitive to local economic circumstances.
pp. 319-329