Child Survival and Fertility of Refugees in Rwanda



In the 1960s and 1990s, internal strife in Rwanda has caused a mass flow of refugees into neighbouring countries. This article explores the cumulated fertility of Rwandan refugee women and the survival of their children. To this end, we use a national survey conducted between 1999 and 2001 and covering 6,420 former refugee and non-refugee households. The findings support old-age security theories of reproductive behaviour: refugee women had higher fertility but their children had lower survival chances. Newborn girls suffered more than boys, suggesting that the usual sex differential in child survival observed in most populations changes under extreme living conditions.

Key words

fertility control genocide infant and child mortality refugee Rwanda 


Dans les années 1960 et 1990, les conflits internes au Rwanda ont provoqué un afflux de réfugiés dans les pays voisins. Cet article étudie la fécondité cumulée des réfugiées ruandaises et la survie de leurs enfants. Il repose sur l’analyse de données issues d’une enquête nationale menée entre 1999 et 2001 et portant sur 6 420 ménages d’anciens réfugiés ou de non-réfugiés. Les résultats confirment les théories qui mettent en relation comportement reproductif et sécurité pour les vieux jours: les réfugiées ont eu une fécondité plus élevée mais leurs enfants une survie plus faible. Les nouveau-nés filles ont davantage souffert que les garçons, suggérant que les différences habituelles de mortalité selon le sexe, observées chez les très jeunes enfants dans la plupart des populations, peuvent être modifiées dans des conditions de vie extrêmes.

Mots clés

Contrôle de la fécondité génocide mortalité infanto-juvénile réfugiés Rwanda 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Al-Qudsi, S. S. 2000‘Profiles of refugee and non-refugee Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza’International Migration3879107CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Chrétien, J. P. 2000Afrique des Grands lacs: deux mille ans d’histoireAubierParisGoogle Scholar
  3. Clay, D., Johnson, N. 1992‘Size of farm or size of family: which comes first?’Population Studies46491505CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Clay, D., Haar, J. 1993‘Patterns of intergenerational support and childbearing in the third world’Population Studies476783CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Danish Epidemiology Science Centre1999‘Nutritional status and mortality of refugee and resident children in a non-camp setting during conflict: follow-up study in Guinea-Bissau’British Medical Journal319878881Google Scholar
  6. Lame, D. 1996Une colline entre mille ou ee calme avant la tempête, transformations et blocages du Rwanda ruralMusée Royale de l’Afrique CentraleTervurenGoogle Scholar
  7. Des Forges, A. 1999Leave None to Tell the StoryHuman Rights WatchNew YorkGoogle Scholar
  8. Goma Epidemiology Group1995‘Public health impact of Rwandan refugee crisis: what happened in Goma Zaire, in July 1994?’The Lancet345339344Google Scholar
  9. Hynes, M., Sheik, M., Wilson, H., Spiegel, H. 2002‘Reproductive health indicators and outcomes among refugees and internally displaced persons in post-emergency phase camps’Journal of the American Medical Association, August288595603Google Scholar
  10. Khawaja, M. 2004‘The extraordinary decline of infant and childhood mortality among Palestinian refugees’Social Science and Medicine58463470CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Lindstrom, D. P., Berhanu, B. 1999‘The impact of war, famine, and economic decline on marital fertility in Ethiopia’Demography36247261PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Long, J. S. 1997‘Regression Models for Categorical and Limited Dependent Variables’SageLondonAdvanced Quantitative Techniques in the Social Sciences 7Google Scholar
  13. May, J. F., Mukamanzi, M., Vekemans, M. 1990‘Family planning in Rwanda: status and prospects’Studies in Family Planning212032PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Mbago, M. C. 1994‘Some correlates of child mortality in the refugee populated regions in Tanzania’Journal of Biosocial Science, October26451467Google Scholar
  15. McCullagh, P., Nelder, J. A. 1989Generalized Linear ModelsChapman and HallNew YorkGoogle Scholar
  16. McGinn, Th. 2000‘Reproductive health of war-affected populations: what do we know?’International Family Planning Perspectives 26174180Google Scholar
  17. Médecins sans frontières2003‘Mortality among displaced former UNITA members and their families in Angola: a retrospective cluster survey’British Medical Journal327650660Google Scholar
  18. Ministry of Finance of Rwanda2002A Profile of Poverty in Rwanda, an Analysis Based on the Results of the Household Living Conditions SurveyMinistry of Finance and Economic Planning, Republic of RwandaKigaliGoogle Scholar
  19. Newbury, C. 1988The Cohesion of Oppression: Clientship and Ethnicity in Rwanda, 1860–1960Columbia University PressNew YorkGoogle Scholar
  20. Nugent, J. B. 1985‘The old-age security motive for fertility’Population and Development Review117597Google Scholar
  21. Pedan, A., 2001. ‘Analysis of count data using the SAS system’. The 26th Annual SAS Users Group International Conference, Paper 247–26. Long Beach, California, 22–25 April 2001Google Scholar
  22. Pinnelli, A., Mancini, P. 1997‘Gender mortality differences from birth to puberty’Corsini, C. A.Viazzo, P. eds. The Decline of Infant and Child Mortality – The European Experience:1750–1990Martinus NijhoffNetherlands, DordrechtGoogle Scholar
  23. Prunier, G. 1995The Rwanda Crisis, History of a GenocideUniversity of Columbia PressNew YorkGoogle Scholar
  24. Reher, D. 1999‘Back to basics: mortality and fertility interactions during the demographic transition’Continuity and Change14931CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Reyntjens, F. 1994L’Afrique des Grands Lacs en criseL’ HarmattanParisGoogle Scholar
  26. Sachs, L. 1997‘Safe motherhood in refugee settings’African Health May92425Google Scholar
  27. UN OCHA1998Guiding Principles on Internal DisplacementUnited Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian AffairsGenevaGoogle Scholar
  28. Verwimp, P. 2003Development and Genocide in Rwanda: a Political Economy Analysis of Peasants and Power under the Habyarimana RegimeEconomics Department, Catholic University of LeuvenLeuven(Doctoral Dissertation)Google Scholar
  29. Weeks, J. R., Rumbaut, R. G., Brindis, C., Korenbrot, C. C., Minkler, D. 1989‘High fertility among Indochinese refugees’Public Health Report March–April104143150Google Scholar
  30. Wooldridge, J. M. 2003Introductory Econometrics. A Modern ApproachThomson/South-WesternMason (Ohio)Google Scholar
  31. Yusuf, F. 1990‘Size and socio-demographic characteristics of the Afghan refugee population in Pakistan’Journal of Biosocial Science July22269279Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Poverty Research Unit at SussexGerman Institute of Economic Research in Berlin and Households in Conflict NetworkBelgium
  2. 2.Department of SociologyCatholic University of Leuven and Postdoctoral Researcher of the Fund for Scientific Research – FlandersLeuvenBelgium

Personalised recommendations