Journal Article

Armed conflict and the timing of childbearing in Azerbaijan

Research on fertility changes in former Soviet states of the South Caucasus is scant and has overlooked the role of armed conflicts. This study contributes to filling these gaps by providing the first detailed account of fertility changes in Azerbaijan since independence and by exploring them in relation to the Nagorno‐Karabakh conflict with Armenia. Estimates from retrospective birth history data from the 2006 Demographic and Health Survey show that since 1991 period fertility declined to almost below‐replacement levels, essentially as a result of stopping behavior, and, only recently, slight birth postponement. While the conflict seems to have little influence on aggregate trends, discrete‐time logit models accounting for unobserved heterogeneity reveal a 42–45 percent higher risk of transitioning to the second birth for women who have been exposed to conflict violence—whether in the form of forced migration or because of residence in the conflict‐torn Karabakh region—than for nonexposed women. Never‐migrant women from Karabakh have also significantly higher probability of having a first child. Further positive effects on fertility are observed for women who lost a child during peak conflict years. Risk‐insurance and replacement effects are possible mechanisms explaining such fertility responses.

Published in a peer-reviewed journal of the Population Council.