Midis de la recherche

12 novembre 2019



Leclercq 82

Philippe Bocquier (DEMO/UCLouvain), Carren Ginsburg,
Ashira Menashe-Oren (DEMO/UCLouvain),
Yacouba Compaoré (DEMO/UCLouvain), Mark Collinson

The Crucial Role of Siblings on Child Survival: Evidence from 29 Health and Demographic Surveillance Systems in sub-Saharan Africa

There is a considerable body of research on the effects of siblings on child mortality through birth. Yet this research commonly focuses on older siblings. We argue that birth intervals with younger siblings may have equal or stronger effects on child mortality, even while the mother is pregnant. Moreover, we contend that birth interval effects need to be considered only when siblings are co-resident. Using longitudinal data from 29 Health and Demographic Surveillance Systems across sub-Saharan Africa, covering over 560,000 children, we examine the role of siblings on child mortality. We find that a minimum 24 month birth interval is advantageous with both older and younger siblings. The effect of a younger sibling is in addition to older siblings, and child mortality is particularly high during a mother’s pregnancy. Moreover we find that when a mother or sibling is absent from the household there is a higher risk of mortality, and death of either reduces child survival even up to six months before the death. These findings can be used to optimise child survival in sub-Saharan Africa, where child mortality is still relatively high.