Journal Article

Mother’s death and child survival: the case of early Quebec

Pavard, S., Gagnon, A., Desjardins, B., Heyer, E.
Journal of Biosocial Science, 37:2, 209–227 (2005)


The aim of this paper is to account for the effect of mother’s death on child survival in a historical population. Using comprehensive data on the early French Canadian population of Quebec, evidence is provided for a higher risk of dying for motherless children that remains significant over all childhood and long after the death of the mother. The specific effect of the loss of maternal care was estimated by comparing mortality before and after mother’s death, furnishing a means to control for family heterogeneity. No differential in investment between genders was detected before age 3, but older girls suffered a three-fold higher susceptibility to mother’s death than their male counterparts. This suggests that grown-up girls assuming the responsibilities of the missing mother had a lower chance of survival.
Keywords: child survival
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