Challenges in Estimating Childlessness

Petra Nahmias, United Nations Population Division

Involuntary childlessness is a distressing condition for many men and women throughout the world. However, data on childlessness, especially in low-income countries is often poor. The Demographic and Health Surveys collect birth histories which include data on childlessness. However, the reported levels of childlessness in many countries fall below the level considered biologically feasible. Furthermore, patterns of childlessness often do not fit those expected from fertility patterns and DHS estimates are far lower than those reported by censuses. Despite these shortcomings, the DHS data are often considered sufficiently robust to reflect relative trends. This study seeks to identify the countries and regions where childless data are particularly problematic. The study will look at the variation in childlessness within countries in order to determine whether the data can be used for relative analysis and any adjustments which can be made to better reflect actual levels.

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Presented in Poster Session 6