Factors affecting desired family size among preliterate New Guinea mothers

Ronald E. Pust, Jeanne S. Newman, Janet Senf, Esther Stotik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


A random sample of 331 Enga mothers in Papua New Guinea perceived that an average of 5.96 live births (S.D. = 1.88) were needed to achieve their mean desired completed family size (DFS) of 4.65 children (S.D. = 1.32). The mean of the personal child mortality rates projected by the individual mothers, 194/1000, is very close to the rate of 198/1000 (224 deaths among 1134 live births) experienced by the women as a group and the 177/1000 documented in a 1972 prospective study in the area. This suggests that as a group preliterate women may possess an accurate estimate of prevailing child mortality rates. Considerable interest in family planning was shown. However for cultural or linguistic reasons, the majority (except in the case of the pill and tubal ligation) expressed no opinions about their readiness to use specific modern methods. The mean parity of 43 women seeking tubal ligation was 5.98 (S.D. = 1.81). An integrated maternal health and family planning program focusing on the health benefits to mother and child of the current 3-4-year birth interval seems indicated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)413-420
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1985
Externally publishedYes


  • Abstinence
  • Child mortality
  • Desired fertility
  • Family planning
  • Maternal health
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Tubal ligation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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