22 September 2016 - 23 September 2016
Paris, France

Underlying causes of the fertility increase in Egypt

IIASA researcher Zakarya Al Zalak is presenting latest research on demographic changes in Egypt at this international young researchers' conference.

Family in Cairo, Egypt © García Juan | Dreamstime

Family in Cairo, Egypt © García Juan | Dreamstime

Under the theme "The impacts and challenges of demographic change" the French Institute for Demographic Studies (INED) in the framework of its iPOPs projet is organizing an International Young  Researchers' Conference that will bring together PhD students, post-doctoral students and young researchers around the topic of population. It aims to tackle new issues raised by demographic transformations in the social environment, and to accompany these increasingly complex changes through demographic, sociological, anthropological, geographical, economic, epidemiological and historical analysis.

IIASA scientist Zakarya Al Zalak will present latest research on fertility in Egypt that he conducted together with Anne Goujon at the World Population Program. They show why some of the usual determinants of fertility decline such as increases in women’s education and urbanization do not translate in further declines, and discuss if the fertility increase might be temporary.

The conference will take place between 22 and 23 September at the FIAP Jean Monnet in Paris, France. 

For more information please visit the event website.


Underlying causes of the fertility increase in Egypt

All Arab countries experienced important fertility declines since the 1980s when the overall average fertility of women was around 6 children. However, a few countries are experiencing an unusual fertility increase in the recent years, in the 2005-2015 period: It is slight in Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco, and fertility decline is stalling in Iraq. However in Egypt, the TFR increased dramatically between the two Demographic and Health Surveys(DHS) of 2008 and 2014, from 3.0 children to 3.5 children.

This is particularly mirrored in the age specific fertility rates which have increased for the age-group 20-24 between the two surveys. These trends go against the more “classical” pattern of fertility transition when along development and its correlate - delayed age at marriage, use of family planning, participation in higher education and in the labor force - women’s fertility declines and occurs at higher ages.

In this paper, we would like to understand the underlying causes of the fertility increase in Egypt. Pulling together several rounds of DHS, we will look at the fertility of women by birth cohorts in Egypt. We will test the effect of several determinants of fertility such as education of women, place of residence, age at marriage, participation in the labor force, use of family planning methods, unmet needs, fertility intentions, etc. We will also try to see whether the fertility increase could not be due to a reversed tempo-effect, with women foregoing fertility without increasing their overall completed fertility levels.

The case of Egypt is interesting first of all because it has many implications for this already large populated country whose environmental capacity are already under strains (particularly in terms of water resources). It is also interesting because it is not a unique phenomenon among Arab countries, and it brings back on the table the debate that already occurred in the 1980s whether the demographic transition theory applies to Arab countries or in the contrary there is a pattern of fertility behavior specific to Arab countries with higher fertility norms, possibly linked with religious beliefs (Islam).

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Last edited: 06 September 2016

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