Seasonality of Birth in Sub-Saharan Africa

Audrey Dorelien, Princeton University

Despite our ability to breed continuously, human populations often exhibit seasonal variation in reproduction. Seasonality of births has been extensively studied in North America, Europe, and East Asia but less so in African settings. Using the Demographic and Health Surveys, we document, test, and compare birth seasonality in Sub-Saharan Africa. We find a wide range of seasonal patterns and different amplitudes, with the largest seasonal birth amplitudes concentrated in West Africa. For certain countries, we also look at within country variation by region and socioeconomic status. Next, we test the impact of three groups of hypotheses on birth seasonality in SSA. The three groups are- social factors that impact the frequency of intercourse (religion/religious holidays and marriage time preference); climatological factors that directly impact human reproduction (temperature); and energetic factors that impact female fecundity. We also test whether seasonal malaria incidence might be a driver of birth seasonality.

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Presented in Poster Session 7