Does Famine Have Long-Term Impact on Female Fecundity? Evidence from the Great Leap Forward Famine in China
Shige Song, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
Using data from the 2001 National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Survey, I look at the difference between women who were born during and after the Great Leap Forward Famine (1959-1961) regarding the timing of first pregnancy, pregnancy frequency, pregnancy interval, the odds of miscarriage and stillbirth, and the odds of infant mortality. The results show no significant cohort difference regarding all but one of these indicators - infant mortality: children of women born during the famine have a much lower infant mortality than children of women born after the famine. These findings suggest two different kind of post-famine selection processes: selection by biological factors and selection by socioeconomic factors. The famine-born women are not necessarily biologically stronger than the non-famine-born women, but they tend to have higher SES and are more likely to take advantage of modern medical facilities such as prenatal care.