Economic Reforms, Age at Marriage and the Length of the First Birth Interval in Vietnam
Lan Nguyen, Arizona State University
Research on marriage and childbearing in Southeast Asian countries since the 1980s documented the shortening of the time between first marriage and first birth. Social and economic changes in these countries are believed to have led to the increase in premarital and marital sexual intercourse, which in turn resulted in shortened first birth intervals. This study examines the impact of the economic reforms started in 1986 on early marital fertility in Vietnam. Using the 2002 Demographic and Health Survey data on 4732 ever-married women, the study finds that women married after the onset of the reforms tended to have shorter first birth intervals than those married before them, controlling for other characteristics. Residence, ethnicity, and occupation also played significant roles. Furthermore, we detect a catch-up effect of delayed marriage, which is independent on the marriage period. The study relates these findings to attitudinal changes regarding premarital and marital sexuality.