New evidence about effects of reproductive variables on child mortality in sub-Saharan Africa

Øystein Kravdal

Photo: Population Studies

Published in:

Population Studies, Volume 72, Issue 2, July 2018.

DOI: 10.1080/00324728.2018.1439180


There is still considerable uncertainty about how reproductive factors affect child mortality. This study, based on Demographic and Health Survey data from 28 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, shows that mortality is highest for firstborn children with very young mothers. Other children with young mothers, or of high birth order, also experience high mortality. Net of maternal age and birth order, a short preceding birth interval is associated with above average mortality. These patterns change, however, if time-invariant unobserved mother-level characteristics of importance for both mortality and fertility are controlled for in a multilevel-multiprocess model. Most importantly, there are smaller advantages associated with longer birth intervals and being older at first birth. The implications of alternative reproductive 'strategies' are discussed, taking into account that if the mother is older at birth, the child will also be born in a later calendar year, when mortality may be lower


Published Oct. 23, 2018 3:47 PM - Last modified Oct. 23, 2018 3:47 PM