The Emergence and Diffusion of Birth Limitation in Urban Areas of Developing Countries

Mathias Lerch , Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research

The rising heterogeneity of women in terms of family size over the course of the fertility transition challenges the classic hypothesis about the diffusion of birth limiting behaviors across parities, known as family limitation. We evaluate whether birth limiting behaviors diffused sequentially from upper to lower parities over time in urban populations of 19 developing countries. Relying on multiple fertility surveys and censuses, we decompose long-term declines in cohort fertility into the parity-specific contributions, and propose two new summary indicators for international comparison. The results challenge the hypothesis of family limitation. We find a significant international variation in the parities at which birth limitation initially emerges, in the direction of its subsequent diffusion to other parities, as well as in the extent to which the limiting behavior is generalized. The implications of our results for fertility inequality and its socioeconomic consequences are finally discussed.

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 Presented in Session 83. Stopping, Spacing, and Postponing in the Developing World