Journal Article

Heterogeneous effects of birth spacing on neonatal mortality risks in Bangladesh

The negative relationship between birth interval length and neonatal mortality risks is well documented, but heterogeneity in this relationship has been largely ignored. Using the Bangladesh Maternal Mortality and Health Care Survey 2010, this study investigates how the effect of birth interval length on neonatal mortality risks varies by maternal age at birth and maternal education. There is significant variation in the effect of interval length on neonatal mortality along these dimensions. Young mothers and those with little education, both of which make up a large share of the Bangladeshi population, can disproportionately benefit from longer intervals. Because these results were obtained from within-family models, they are not due to unobservable heterogeneity between mothers. Targeting women with these characteristics may lead to significant improvements in neonatal mortality rates, but there are significant challenges in reaching them.

Published in a peer-reviewed journal of the Population Council. Joseph Molitoris is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Sociology, University of Copenhagen and an affiliated researcher at the Centre for Economic Demography, Lund University.