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Women's experience of child death over the life course: a global demographic perspective

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Alburez-Gutierrez, D., Kolk, M., & Zagheni, E. (2019). Women's experience of child death over the life course: a global demographic perspective. SocArXiv papers.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0006-B10A-7
Recent population change has seen increases in life expectancy, reductions in family size, and postponement of fertility to older ages. We analyze the effect of these dynamics on the experience of child death over the life course for the 1950-1999 annual birth cohorts of women around the world. The paper draws on age-specific fertility and mortality rates from the UN World Population Prospects 2019 (estimates and projections) to assess trends in the frequency and timing of child death using formal demographic methods. We discuss the variation in woman's exposure to offspring mortality according to the demographic regimes prevailing in different world regions. Our analyses predict a global reduction in the overall frequency of child death over a woman's life course. We expect the largest improvements in regions of the Global South where child death is still common for women. In spite of persisting regional inequalities, we show evidence of a global convergence towards a future where the death of a child will become ever more infrequent for women. We anticipate that global population aging will be accompanied by an aging of generational relationships where life events such as the death of a child are experienced at older ages. Given these results, it seems likely that `child death' will increasingly come to mean the death of an adult child for younger generations of women.