The Effect of Prenatal Famine Exposure on Female Sterility Revisited: Developmental Plasticity, Developmental Disruption, or Selection?

Shige Song, Queens College, City University of New York (CUNY)

Using etrospective birth history information by two large nationally representative sample fertility surveys conducted in China in 1997 (N = 15,000) and 2001 (N = 39,000), and supplementary information from the 1982 Chinese Population Census, this study identifies the long-term effect of prenatal exposure to the 1959-1961 Chinese Great Leap Forward Famine on female sterility, defined as having no childbirth after seven years of marriage. Preliminary results show that, at the lower end of the famine severity measure, the famine cohort had a higher sterility risk than the non-famine cohorts, suggesting that famine exposure had a disruptive effect on the development of female reproductive system. As famine severity increased, however, the sterility risk for the famine cohort gradually decreased and eventually became lower than that of the non- famine cohort, suggesting that selection effect caused by differential mortality and fertility loss eventually prevail.

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Presented in Session 143: Fertility and Crisis