Data from a retrospective survey are used to analyze trends in the fertility of Peninsular Malaysia's 3 main ethnic groups, Malays, Chinese, and Indians. Though imperfect, these data allow a comparison of the fertility experience of birth cohorts of women who were in their childbearing years during 2 decades of rapid social change. 2 components of the birth interval, postpartum amenorrhea and the menstruating interval, and proximate determinants of these 2 components, breast feeding and contraceptive use, are considered. Ethnic differences in the way these components have changed over time are more pronounced than differences in completed fertility, primarily because Malay women breastfed longer than women of Chinese origin, while the latter were more likely to use modern contraceptives.
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