Academic journal article Demographic Research

Fertility and Union Dissolution in Brazil: An Example of Multi-Process Modelling Using the Demographic and Health Survey Calendar Data

Academic journal article Demographic Research

Fertility and Union Dissolution in Brazil: An Example of Multi-Process Modelling Using the Demographic and Health Survey Calendar Data

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study examines the union and conception histories of Brazilian women aged 15-49 using the 1996 Demographic and Health Survey's calendar data.

The aim of the paper is twofold: firstly to explore the use of union histories in the DHS calendar data, which have not yet been used for union dynamics studies, secondly to analyse the relationship between union instability and fertility in Brazil which has been long understudied. Using the example of Brazil it investigates the potential strengths and biases of this data source. In particular it analyses the impact of union dissolution on fertility in Brazil using multiprocess event history analysis techniques as developed by Lillard (1993). This type of methodology has been widely used for the analyses of developed countries data. However, it has not been explored for developing countries mainly due to the lack of data.

The paper will demonstrate the positive effect of union instability on fertility.

1. Introduction

In countries with a high contraceptive prevalence the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHSs) include a calendar. The DHS calendar consists of a database that recalls information on union history, pregnancy and fertility, and contraceptive use for each month during the five years preceding the survey. The main goal of this instrument is to provide longitudinal data on contraceptive use. In some countries information on breastfeeding, migration and employment has been added. So far calendar-style data have mainly been used to analyse contraceptive dynamics (Curtis 1997, Goldman et al. 1989, Leite 1998, Magnani et al. 1996, Steele and Curtis 2001, Strickler et al. 1997; Westoff et al. 1990). To the best of our knowledge only one study (Leone & Hinde, 2005) has used the union history calendar to analyse the dynamics of union formation or dissolution, or combined the union history calendar with that dealing with the history of pregnancy and childbearing to examine the relationship between union dynamics and fertility.

This paper reports an analysis of the relationship between one aspect of union dynamics (union dissolution) and fertility in Brazil using data from the 1996 Brazilian Demographic and Health Survey calendar. It explores the biases and the strengths of this data source for the analysis of union histories. It is part of a larger study which aims to analyse the relationship between union dynamics as a whole and fertility. In order to allow for an extended discussion of methodological issues linked with the use of the DHS union history calendar data, we focus here on the relationship between union dissolution and fertility. In this paper we hypothesise that union instability has a positive impact on the level of fertility despite a lower exposure to the risk of conceiving. We will discuss this hypothesis in the following sections and the need to model fertility and union instability jointly.

In the next section we explain why the relationship between union dissolution and fertility in Brazil is both particularly interesting and theoretically challenging to study. We then proceed to discuss the use of the union history data in the DHS calendar. The fourth section describes the models which we use to examine the mutual interaction between union dissolution and fertility. These models take account of the possibility of unobserved characteristics of the women in the sample which simultaneously affect both the risk of childbearing and the risk of a union breaking down. The fifth section presents the results of the models and the last provides a discussion and conclusion.

2. Union dissolution and fertility in Brazil

Brazil has experienced a steep fertility decline in the last 40 years, the total fertility rate falling from 6.2 in 1960 to 2.0 in 2005 (US Bureau of Census 2005), despite the absence, for much of this period, of a government-sponsored family planning programme. Women's increasing autonomy has played an important role in this decline, and a high reliance on female sterilisation (42% of women aged 15-49 in 1996 were sterilised) is one of its outstanding characteristics (Carvalho and Wong, 1996). …

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