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Chin J Popul Sci. 1991;3(1):1-10.

The states of marriage and fertility of women born in the reign of Guangxu of the Qing: a retrospective survey of the states of marriage and fertility of 90-94-year old women in Hebei province.



The results of a retrospective study of marriage and fertility among 90- 94 year old women in Hebei Province, China, in 1980 are discussed. This population is important because of deficiencies in available data and as a historical record of demographic change since feudal times which may help to understand modern patterns. The survey provided 4002 questionnaires (.07% of the entire provincial population). Survey methods are briefly described and assurances are made for its reliability. The findings reported pertain to 1) average age at 1st marriage which was 19.3 years for women in the former Qing He township of Beijing; 2) distributions of age at 1st marriage, which reveal that 75.91% were married between 16-20 years; 3) the average age at primiparity and the age distribution at primiparity, which was 22.5 years and concentrated in the 20-24 age group; 4) the average interval between 1st and 2nd births, which was 3.66 years; 5) women's lifelong average number of children born and number of parities, which averaged 6.03 children/woman and 6.2 live parities/woman and 3.30% infertility (46.7% had 6-7 live born children); 6) age at 1st marriage and fertility; 7) final parity fertility age and fertility; and 7) the state of infant mortality, which was 181.47% in 1 year of which the mortality rate of males was and 162.47% for females. Comparisons are made to current data. Considerable advances have been made since these women were born in 1892-96, particularly in terms of infant mortality which in 1980-83 was 34%. Age at 1st marriage was similar up to the period of Liberation in 1954, but 4.14 years lower that the average of 23.12 years in 1979. While primiparity at age 24 accounted for 81.65% of the total, in 1985 there was around 25% completed primiparity in each 5-year age group between 25-29 years and 45-49 years. The 60.56% having a birth interval of 2-3 years is lower than the 65% in 1985. The average number of live births was lower in 1985 (4.28). These 90-94 year old women had a large number of children early, but the average lifelong number of live-born children was only 3.9, which is accounted for by the history of impoverishment in some districts. The average reproductive period was 12.83 years.

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