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Child Mortality and Reproductive Behavior in German Village Populations in the Past: A Micro-level Analysis of the Replacement Effect

Publication Abstract

Knodel, John E. 1982. "Child Mortality and Reproductive Behavior in German Village Populations in the Past: A Micro-level Analysis of the Replacement Effect." Population Studies, 36(2): 177-200.

Reproductive histories of couples married during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in a sample of 14 German villages are analysed in order to answer several questions regarding the relationship between child mortality and reproductive behaviour. An effort is made through selection of cases and use of multiple classification analysis to eliminate or control non-volitional or otherwise confounding influences on the relationship between a couple's experience with child mortality and their fertility. The results do not provide a decisive answer to the question of whether, under a regime of otherwise presumed natural fertility, previous experience of child mortality affected subsequent reproductive behaviour. The evidence was much clearer in indicating that behaviour consistent with replacement efforts emerged or strengthened as family limitation spread. Finally, the results indicated that though it was not necessary for overall child mortality to decline before family limitation practices were adopted, couples with the most favourable child mortality experience were most likely to practise family limitation and to reduce their fertility. Child mortality appeared at least to impede, if not totally prevent, efforts to reduce the number of children ever born or to cease childbearing at an earlier age or at a given parity.

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