Volume 58, Part 3, 2004

Author: George Alter
Title: Height, frailty, and the standard of living: Modelling the effects of diet and disease on declining mortality and increasing height

Explanations of historical trends in both mortality and human height differ over the relative contributions of better nutrition and reduced exposure to disease. This paper explores theoretical models in which interactions between diet and disease determine both mortality and height. One model assumes that adult height is directly related to frailty, the relative risk of dying. The second model links frailty to differences between attained and potential height. Diet plays a small role in the transition to low mortality in the first model. The second model assigns a large role to diet in historical mortality trends, but implies that mortality will be unrelated to height in the future.

Keywords: Mortality Decline, Body Height, Nutrition, Historical Demography

Author: Daniel M. Goodkind
Title: China's missing children: The 2000 census underreporting surprise

We compare the age and sex structure of China's 2000 population census to an estimate of that structure derived from a projection from the 1990 census. Based on China's own official estimates of demographic change, our intercensal analysis indicates a shortfall in enumeration of more than a quarter of all children under age 5 and an eighth of those between 5 and 9, a total of nearly 37 million children missing in the 2000 census. W

We show that the shortfall is primarily due to underreporting of children in the census. Sex differences in child underreporting were fairly minor. Child underreporting in China is not unprecedented, but child underreporting rates in 2000 were about triple those of previous censuses. We attribute the increase primarily to policy changes beginning in the early 1990s that held officials at all jurisdictional levels personally responsible for enforcing birth quotas.

Keywords: China, Census, Fertility, Underreporting, Population Policy, Children, Intercensal Analysis, Sex Ratios
pp. 281-295

Author: Martin Dribe
Title: Long-term effects of childbearing on mortality: Evidence from pre-industrial Sweden

This paper presents an analysis of the impact of childbearing history on later-life mortality for ever-married men and women using historical micro-level data of high quality for southern Sweden.

The analysis uses a Cox proportional hazards model, estimating the effects on old-age mortality of number of births and timing of first and last births. By studying the effects of previous childbearing on mortality by sex and social status, we also gain important insights into the mechanisms relating childbearing to mortality in old age.

The results show that number of children ever born had a statistically significant negative impact on longevity after age 50 for females but not for males. Analysis by social group shows that only landless women experienced higher mortality from having more children, which seems to indicate that the main explanations are to be found in social or economic conditions specific to females, rather than in the strictly biological or physiological effects of childbearing.

Keywords: Reproductive History, Mortality, Childbearing, Sweden, Social Differences, Historical Demography, Life Course, Cox Proportional Hazards Model, Reproductive Health
pp. 297-310

Authors: Vladimir M. Shkolnikov, Evgueni M. Andreev, Jon Anson and France Meslé
Title: The peculiar pattern of mortality of Jews in Moscow, 1993-95

Russian Jews, particularly men, have a large mortality advantage compared with the general Russian population. We consider possible explanations for this advantage using data on 445,000 deaths in Moscow, 1993-95. Log-linear analysis of the distribution of deaths by sex, age, ethnic group, and cause of death reveals a relatively high concentration of endogenous causes and a relatively low concentration of exogenous and behaviourally induced causes among Jews.

There is also a significant concentration of deaths from breast cancer among Jewish women. Mortality estimates using the 1994 micro-census population as the denominator reveal an 11-year Russian-Jewish gap in the life expectancy of males at age 20, but only a 2-year life-expectancy gap for women.

Only 40 per cent of the Russian-Jewish difference for men, but the entire difference for women, can be eliminated by adjustment for educational differences between the two ethnic groups. Similarities with other Jewish populations and possible explanations are discussed.

Keywords: Ethnic Group, Cause of Death, Life Expectancy, Russia, Sex Differences
pp. 311-329

Authors: José Alberto Magno de Carvalho, Charles H. Wood and Flávia Cristina Drumond Andrade
Title: Estimating the stability of census-based racial/ethnic classifications: The case of Brazil

This study presents a method of estimating the degree to which people change their racial/ethnic identity from one census enumeration to another. The technique is applied to the classification of skin colour in Brazil (white, black, brown, yellow). For the period 1950-80, the findings show a deficit of 38 per cent in the black category and a gain of 34 per cent in the brown category, suggesting that a large proportion of individuals who declared themselves black in 1950 reclassified themselves as brown in 1980.

Estimates for 1980-90, adjusted for the effects of international migration, reveal a similar pattern, although the magnitude of colour reclassification may have declined somewhat during the 1980s.

Procedures to determine the stability of racial/ethnic identity produce data useful to recent policy initiatives that rely on demographic censuses to measure changes in the status of minority groups in less developed countries.

Keywords: Race, Ethnicity, Brazil, Identity, Racial Classification, Skin Colour, Social Exclusion, International Migration, Minority Population, Stability of census Racial Categories
pp. 331-343

Author: Kathryn M. Yount
Title: Research Note. Maternal resources, proximity of services, and curative care of boys and girls in Minya, Egypt 1995-97

Despite declines in the risk of dying among children in Egypt, girls' excess mortality in early childhood persists. Using data from a representative sample of children in Minya, Egypt, I assess whether maternal resources, marital household structure, and proximity of services influence disparities by sex in curative care.

The results show that boys visit any source of care marginally more often than girls. Among children who receive care, boys more often receive private care. Higher maternal education has no effect on the relative odds of private care, whereas maternal residence with marital relatives reduces the odds that girls receive private care. Having a public clinic in the neighbourhood, at which private services may be offered, increases girls' odds of receiving private care.

Higher and more equitable levels of care-seeking at public and private services of higher quality may reduce differences in the survival of boys and girls in a highly sex-stratified setting.

Keywords: Egypt, Sex Bias, Gender Issues, Sex Factors, Health Services, Child Health, Child Survival
pp. 345-355

Authors: Sajeda Amin and Alaka Malwade Basu
Title: Research Note. Popular perceptions of emerging influences on mortality and longevity in Bangladesh and West Bengal

Relatively little is known about how environmental and pathological threats to human survival and longevity are perceived by the public. In this study in rural Bangladesh and West Bengal, India, which used individual interviews and focus-group discussions to investigate the changing costs of and motivations for reproduction, respondents were questioned about their perceptions of changes in mortality.

The findings show that, while child mortality levels are perceived to have fallen dramatically in recent times, the health and survival prospects of the middle aged and the elderly are seen to have been better in the past. The perceived decline in adult health is attributed to environmental deterioration and lifestyle changes accompanying modernization.

This paper explores people's reasons for this unexpected worldview. References to pesticides and chemical fertilizers as causes of death abound in their explanations and are seen to be associated with unhealthy agricultural practices and impiety.

Keywords: Perceptions, Mortality, Bangladesh, Bengal, Qualitative Research
pp. 357-363