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Women's work and fertility, research findings and policy implications from recent United Nations research.
[Unpublished] 1986. Paper presented at the Rockefeller Foundation's Workshop on Women's Status and Fertility, Mt.Kisco, New York, July 8-11, 1986. 23 p.Using World Fertility Survey data from the developing countries, it has been found that the interval between 1st and last birth varies from roughly 14 years in several of the more developed countries of Latin America and Asia (Republic of Korea, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago) to 20 years in several African countries (Kenya and Senegal). In most of these countries childbearing begins between ages 18 and 20 with the lowest median age of 1st birth found in Bangladesh (17 years old) and the highest in Yemen (22 years old). Ages at last birth vary more widely from 33 in Trinidad and Tobago to 40 in Yemen. At the age of last birth, life expectancy varies from 27 in Benin and Senegal to 44 in Trinidad and Tobago and 42 in Costa Rica, Jamaica, and Panama. Life expectancy at last birth varies with level of development with developing countries at the highest level of development having an average life expectancy at age of last birth of 40.5 ranging on down to 36.8 at a middle-high level of development, 32.6 at a middle-low level, and 29.7 at the lowest level of development. This is compared with a life expectancy at last birth which is now as high as 52.6 in Japan for women born in 1950-1959 and 51.6 in the Netherlands for women born in 1940-1949. Thus, the actual childbearing period is 2 to 5 times longer in the developing countries than it is in the developed countries. A life cycle approach to women's employment and childbearing is essential for a full understanding of the interrelationship between women's status and fertility. While work opportunities can improve women's status and create the motivation for low fertility, fertility control is essential to women's status. As long as the events of conception, pregnancy, and childbirth have a significant element of chance, the incentives for societal and individual investment in women's educational and job opportunities will remain limited.