Mortality Decline and the Risk of Onset of Fertility Transition

Laurie DeRose, University of Maryland

Quests for thresholds of mortality decline triggering the onset of fertility transition have proven elusive. Also, later fertility transitions proceed at lower levels of economic development as measured by a variety of indicators, including mortality. Nonetheless, this paper argues that the relationship between mortality decline and the onset of fertility transition may be tighter than previous cross-national analyses have suggested. First, even if the risk of entering the fertility transition were constant for a given level of economic development, transitions would proceed at lower development levels as countries at higher levels select out of the risk set. This paper employs an event history framework to test whether the probability of transition remains constant over time. Second, completed family size is much more likely to be higher than desired if fertility has increased along with mortality decline. The effect of mortality decline is likely misestimated where fertility increase is not controlled.

Presented in Session 10: Fertility Impact of Mortality Change