Article

Demography

, Volume 42, Issue 2, pp 301-322

First online:

Famine, social disruption, and involuntary fetal loss: Evidence from chinese survey data

  • Yong CaiAffiliated withDepartment of Sociology, University of Washington
  • , Wang FengAffiliated withDepartment of Sociology, University of California

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Abstract

Relying on half a million pregnancy histories collected from Chinese women in the late 1980s, we studied nearly a quarter century of self-reported miscarriages and stillbirths in China. Our results suggest that these two forms of involuntary fetal loss are affected not only by biological and demographic factors, such as the mother’s age, pregnancy order, and pregnancy history, but also by the mother’s social characteristics and the larger social environment. In this article, we focus on how two social and economic crises—the Great Leap Forward famine and the Cultural Revolution— resulted in elevated risks of miscarriage and stillbirth in the Chinese population.