A decomposition of age-specific marital fertility rates into indices related to spacing and stopping is developed by using Coale and Trussell’s indices and the first few parity progression ratios. This approach leads to estimates of the mean birth interval among low-parity births that can be used to address the issue of fertility control early in marriage. In this way the model addresses several of the most serious limitations of Coale and Trussell’s approach. The usefulness of the proposed indices is demonstrated by applications to historical data from the United States and Europe.

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