Fertility Decline, Women’s Well-Being, and Gender Gaps in Well-Being in Poor Countries

Kathryn M. Yount, Emory University
Sarah Zureick-Brown, Emory University
Nafisa Halim, Boston University
Kayla LaVilla, Emory University

We examined how declining total fertility and women’s increasing median age at first birth have been associated with changes in women’s and girls’ well-being and gender gaps in children’s well-being in panels of 60–75 poorer countries using 124–187 Demographic and Health Surveys spanning 1985–2008. In adjusted random-effects models, these changes in fertility were associated with gains in women’s and girls’ well-being, particularly access to prenatal care and trained attendance at delivery, child mortality, vaccination coverage, school attendance, and nutrition (for later childbearing). Benefits were equal for boys and girls with respect to vaccination coverage and school attendance. Declining total fertility was associated with greater gains for boys relative to girls with regards to child mortality and malnutrition; however, increases in women’s age at first birth, which may indicate broader shifts in gender norms, were associated with greater advantages for girls relative to boys on these same measures.

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Presented in Session 102: Fertility Research in a Comparative Perspective