Skip to main content Accessibility help


  • Gauthier Tshiswaka-Kashalala (a1) and Steven F. Koch (a1)


Although contraception allows women to delay childbirth, stop unwanted childbearing, and postpone childbirth, not all contraception is equally effective, equally easy to access, or equally easy to use. Due to heterogeneity in women’s contraception opportunities and choices, in the effectiveness of the contraception used and even in luck, women differ in both their birth intervals and their age at first childbirth. We explore this heterogeneity, theoretically, incorporating contraception effectiveness and uncertainty (along with potential earnings, contraception costs, and net child benefits) into a potential mother’s childbearing decisions. Empirically, these factors are incorporated into a first hit time duration model, focusing on time to first birth, estimated with data from the Democratic Republic of Congo. The results provide nuanced insights into the income-fertility puzzle. Our evidence suggests that educated women start childbearing later, and are better able to use contraception, even less effective contraception. Thus, there are education-related heterogeneities in contraceptive effectiveness. Further, we find that women using more effective contraception start childbearing at a later age, as do women with better access to contraception. Both improved female education and improved access to modern contraception have the potential to hasten the fertility transition in the Democratic Republic of Congo.


Corresponding author

Address correspondence to: Steven F. Koch, Department of Economics, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, Republic of South Africa; e-mail:


Hide All

The authors would like to thank the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Economic Research Southern Africa, the University of Pretoria Vice Chancellor Academic Development Grant Program and the Population Reference Bureau Policy Communication Fellowship Program for their financial support. We would like to Jaap Abbring, Richard Blundell, Rulof Burger, Salvador Navarro, Alexander Zimper, the editor, and two anonymous referees for their comments on earlier drafts of this research. Their comments have greatly improved the research, and its presentation. The usual caveat applies.



Hide All
Aalen, Odd O., Borgan, Ornulf and Gjessing, Hakon K. (2008) Survival and Event History Analysis: A Process Point View. New York: Springer-Verlag.
Aalen, Odd O. and Gjessing, Hakon K. (2001) Understanding the shape of the hazard rate: A process point view. Statistical Sciences 16 (1), 122.
Abbring, Jaap H. (2012) Mixed hitting-time models. Econometrica 80 (2), 783819.
Becker, Gary S. (1960) An economic analysis of fertility. In Universities-National Bureau of Economic Research (ed.), Demographics and Economic Change in Developed Countries. New York, NY, USA: Columbia University Press (for NBER), pp. 209231.
Becker, Gary S. (1965) A theory of the allocation of time. The Economic Journal 75 (299), 493517.
Becker, Gary S. and Lewis, H. Gregg (1973) On the interaction between the quantity and quality of children. Journal of Political Economy 81 (2), S279S288.
Bloom, David E., Canning, David, Fink, Gunther, and Finlay, Jocelyn E. (2009) Fertility, female labor force participation, and the demographic dividend. Journal of Economic Growth 14 (2), 79101.
Bongaarts, John and Casterline, John (2013) Fertility transition: Is sub-Saharan Africa different? Population and Development Review 38 (s1), 153168.
Bradley, Sarah E. K., Croft, Trevor N., Fishel, Joy, and Westoff, Charles F. (2012) Revising unmet need for family planning. DHS Analytical Studies No. 25. Calverton, MD, USA: ICF International.
Caldwell, John C. (1976) Toward the restatement of demographic transition theory. Population and Development Review 2 (3/4), 321366.
Chhikara, Raj S. and Folks, Leroy (n.d.) CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, USA.
Coale, Ansley J. (1984) The demographic transition. The Pakistan Development Review 23 (4), 531552.
Cox, David R. and Oakes, David (1984) Analysis of Survival Data. New York: Chapman & Hall.
Easterlin, Richard A. (1975) An economic framework for fertility analysis. Studies in Family Planning 6 (3), 5463.
Erikson Baaz, Maria and Stern, Maria (2009) Why do soldiers rape? Masculinity, violence, and sexuality in the armed forces in the Congo (DRC). International Studies Quarterly 53 (4), 1181.
Fitzenberger, Bernd, Sommerfeld, Katrin and Steffes, Susanne (2013) Causal effects on employment after first birth – A dynamic treatment approach. Labour Economics 25, 4962.
Galor, Oded and Zang, Hyoungsoo (1997) Fertility, income distribution, and economic growth: Theory and cross-country evidence. Japan and the World Economy 9 (2), 197229.
Gawarecki, Leszek and Mandrekar, Vidyadhar (2011) Stochastic Differential Equations in Infinite Dimensions: With Applications to Stochastic Partial Differential Equations. Berlin: Springer.
Goldin, Claudia and Katz, Lawrence F. (2002) The power of the pill: Oral contraceptives and women’s career and marriage decisions. Journal of Political Economy 110 (4), 730770.
Heckman, James J. and Vytlacil, Edward J. (n.d.).
Heckman, James J. and Willis, Robert J. (n.d.) In Terleckyj, Nester E. (ed.), Household Production and Consumption, pp. 99146. New York, NY, USA: Columbia University Press (for NBER).
Jones, Larry E., Schoonbroodt, Alice and Tertilt, Michele (n.d.) In Shoven, John B. (ed.), Demography and Economy. Chicago, IL, USA: University of Chicago Press.
Jones, Larry E. and Tertilt, Michele (n.d.) In Rupert, P. (ed.), Frontiers of Family Economics, pp. 165230. Bingley, UK: Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Klepinger, Daniel H., Lundberg, Shelly and Plotnick, Robert D. (1995) Adolescent fertility and the educational attainment of young women. Family Planning Perspectives 27 (1), 2328.
Lancaster, Tony (1972) A stochastic model for the duration of a strike. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society. Series A 135 (2), 257271.
Lee, Mee-Ling Ting and Whitmore, G. (2006) Threshold regression for survival analysis: Modeling event times by a stochastic process reaching a boundary. Statistical Sciences 21 (2), 501513.
Lee, Mei-Ling Ting and Whitmore, G. (2010) Proportional hazards and threshold regression: Their theoretical and practical connections. Lifetime Data Analysis 16 (2), 196214.
Leibenstein, Harvey (1975) The economic theory of fertility. The Quarterly Journal of Economics 89 (1), 131.
Michael, Robert T. and Willis, Robert J. (n.d.) In Terleckyj, N. E. (ed.), Household Production and Uncertainty, pp. 2598. Cambridge, MA, USA: National Bureau of Economic Research.
Mincer, Jacob and Polachek, Salomon (1974) Family investments in human capital: Earnings of women. The Journal of Political Economy 82 (2), 76108.
Moultrie, Tom A., Sayi, Takudzwa S. and Timaeus, Ian M. (2012) Birth intervals, postponement, and fertility decline in Africa: A new type of transition?. Population Studies: A Journal of Demography 66 (3), 241258.
Mukengere Mukwege, Dennis and Nangini, Cathy (2009) Rape with extreme violence: The new pathology in South Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo. PLoS Medicine 6 (12), e1000204.
Ramsey, Frank Plumpton (1928) A mathematical theory of saving. The Economic Journal 38 (152), 543559.
Reid, Nancy (1994) A conversation with Sir David Cox. Statistical Science 9 (3), 439455.
Romaniuk, Anatole (2011) Persistence of high fertility in tropical Africa: The case of the democratic republic of the congo. Population and Development Review 37 (1), 128.
Rutsein, Shea O and Johnson, Kiersten (2004) The DHS wealth index.. DHS Comparative Reports No. 6. Calverton, Maryland, USA: ORC Macro.
Sannikov, Yuliy (2008) A continuous-time version of the principal-agent problem. The Review of Economics Studies 75 (3), 957984.
Shapiro, David and Tambashe, B Oleko (2001) Gender, poverty, family structure, and investments in children’s education in Kinshasa, Congo. Economics of Education Review 20 (4), 359375.
Shimer, Robert (2008) The probability of finding a job. American Economic Review 98 (2), 268273.
Stokey, Nancy L. (n.d.) Princeton, NJ, USA: Princeton University Press.
te Velde, Egbert, Habbema, Dik, Leridon, Henri and Eijkemans, Marinus (2012) The effect of postponement of first motherhood on permanent involuntary childlessness and total fertility rate in six European countrices since the 1970s. Human Reproduction 27 (4), 11791183.
Trussell, James (2011) Contraceptive failure in the United States. Contraception 83 (5), 397404.
Upchurch, Dawn M. and McCarthy, James (1990) The timing of a first birth and high school completion. American Sociological Review 55 (2), 224234.
Whitmore, Georges Alexander (1979) An inverse gaussian model for labour turnover. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society. Series A (General) 142 (4), 468478.
Woodbury, Max A. and Manton, Kenneth G. (1977) A random-walk model of human mortality and aging. Theoretical Population Biology 11 (1), 3748.
Xiao, Tao, Whitmore, G. A. and He, Xin (2012) Threshold regression for time-to-event analysis: The stthreg package. The Stata Journal 12 (2), 257283.
Yashin, Anatoli I. and Manton, Kenneth G. (1997) Effects of unobserved and partially observed covariate processes on system failure: A review of models and estimation strategies. Statistical Science 12 (1), 2034.
Yeakey, Marissa Pine, Muntifering, Carie J., Ramachandran, Daesha V., Myint, Yemon, Creanga, Andreea A., and Tsui, Amy O. (2009) How contraceptive use affects birth intervals: Results of a literature review. Studies in Family Planning 40 (3), 205214.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of Demographic Economics
  • ISSN: 2054-0892
  • EISSN: 2054-0906
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-demographic-economics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed