The Role of Childhood Mortality in Fertility Transition in a Rural Sahelian District of Northern Ghana

Fred Binka, University of Ghana
Ayaga A. Bawah, Navrongo Health Research Centre
Mian B. Hossain, Morgan State University

A widely accepted hypothesis holds that mortality decline induces reproductive change. In Asia, however, childhood mortality covaries with fertility in ways that suggest volitional replacement of children is a consequence rather than a cause of demographic transition. Whether this relationship occurs in African settings where fertility regulation is dominated by child spacing rather than limitation remains unknown. This paper assesses the child replacement hypothesis with longitudinal birth and deaths data occurring to children of 43,000 women observed in the Navrongo Demographic Surveillance System over the July 1993 to June 2003 period. Cox regression is employed to assess the effect of child mortality on odds of parity progression, controlling for maternal characteristics. Results show that the death of a child has no effect on the odds of subsequent parity progression. The Navrongo experiment has no effect on replacement. Results are contrasted with an analysis from Bangladesh evincing a pronounced replacement effect.

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Presented in Session 79: Fertility Transitions in Ghana