Birth Spacing and Neonatal Mortality in India

Dynamics, Frailty, and Fecundity

by Sonia Bhalotra, Arthur Van Soest

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A dynamic panel data model of neonatal mortality and birth spacing is analyzed, accounting for causal effects of birth spacing on subsequent mortality and of mortality on the next birth interval, while controlling for unobserved heterogeneity in mortality (frailty) and birth spacing (fecundity). The model is estimated using micro data on about 29000 children of 6700 Indian mothers, for whom a complete retrospective record of fertility and child mortality is available. Information on sterilization is used to identify an equation for completion of family formation that is needed to account for right-censoring in the data. The authors find clear evidence of frailty, fecundity, and causal effects of birth spacing on mortality and vice versa, but find that birth interval effects can explain only a limited share of the correlation between neonatal mortality of successive children in a family.

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