Analysis of Demographic Change in East Pakistan

A Study of Retrospective Survey Data

by T. P. Schultz, Julie DaVanzo

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A study of the individual reproductive histories of 4204 at-least-once-married women (2079 rural and 1225 urban) living in about 3000 households in central East Pakistan in 1961-62. Data are from a demographic survey by the University of Dacca, sponsored by the Population Council of New York. Although retrospective studies are generally considered unreliable, the analytical results of the study seem reasonable. On the average, these women married at age 12.9 (rural) or 14.2 (urban). Those over 34 had borne about six children, of whom three were living. Three-fourths of those over 30 had three living children. Age-specific marital birth rates declined about 20 percent during the 1950s. Findings confirm the postpartum sterility effect of a birth on the mothers' subsequent fertility, and the tendency of mothers to replace a dead child within five years. There was an average 50 percent replacement by mothers aged 15 to 19 and 30 to 39, and 30 percent by mothers aged 20 to 29. The quality of the retrospective survey offers hope for low-income nations that need reliable vital statistics as a guide to policy.

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