Child Survival and Fertility of Refugees in Rwanda

  • Philip Verwimp
  • Jan Van  Bavel


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 


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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

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