The fertility pattern, in terms of birth intervals, in a rural population not practicing contraception belonging to La Alta Alpujarra Oriental (southeast Spain) is analyzed. During the first half of the 20th century, this population experienced a considerable degree of geographical and cultural isolation. Because of this population’s high variability in fertility and therefore in birth intervals, the analysis was limited to a homogenous subsample of 154 families, each with at least five pregnancies. This limitation allowed us to analyze, among and within families, effects of a set of variables on the interbirth pattern, and to avoid possible problems of pseudoreplication. Information on birth date of the mother, age at marriage, children’s birth date and death date, birth order, and frequency of miscarriages was collected. Our results indicate that interbirth intervals depend on an exponential effect of maternal age, especially significant after the age of 35. This effect is probably related to the biological degenerative processes of female fertility with age. A linear increase of birth intervals with birth order within families was found as well as a reduction of intervals among families experiencing an infant death. Our sample size was insufficient to detect a possible replacement behavior in the case of infant death. High natality and mortality rates, a secular decrease of natality rates, a log-normal birth interval, and family-size distributions suggest that La Alpujarra has been a natural fertility population following a demographic transition process.
- Polo, V.; Luna, F. & Fuster, V. (2000). Determinants of birth interval in a rural Mediterranean population (La Alpujarra, Spain). Human Biology, 72(5), 877-890.
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