Armed Conflict and the Timing of Childbearing in Azerbaijan

Orsola Torrisi , London School of Economics

Little is known about the fertility trajectories of Azerbaijan, a country that, in the midst of huge economic dislocation due to the USSR collapse, experienced a full-scale inter-state war over the Nagorno-Karabakh region with Armenia. This study provides the first detailed account of fertility trends and patterns in the country since its existence as an independent state and explores the effects of the conflict on fertility outcomes. Using birth history data from the 2006 Azerbaijan Demographic and Health Survey, it shows that since independence period fertility declined to almost below-replacement levels, predominantly as a result of falling fertility at parity three. While the conflict does not seem to have influenced aggregate fertility trends, discrete-time logit models with random effects estimating the risk of first, second and third births reveal a 50-53% higher risk of second birth for women exposed to conflict violence, whether in the form of forced migration or because they reside in the conflict-torn Karabakh region. For women who never migrated from the Karabakh region, the risk of a first birth is also significantly higher. Further positive effects on fertility are observed once a woman loses a child during peak conflict years. Replacement and risk-insurance effects are possible mechanisms explaining such responses. These findings highlight the importance of disentangling conflict effects at the parity-level, in relation to a country’s stage in the fertility transition, and across population subgroups affected differently from conflict, and have important population policy implications especially for countries dealing with large numbers of forcibly displaced.

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 Presented in Session 117. Consequences of Armed Conflict for Childbearing