Family Background, Contemporary Constraints, and Fertility in Egypt

Rania Roushdy, Population Council

Long-standing fertility theory posits that fertility is determined in part by ideals and desires formed during childhood. The extent to which these are expressed in realized fertility is a function of constraints operating during the reproductive years (economic, social, biological). Family background factors, especially characteristics of the family of origin (such as number of siblings), are often neglected in research on fertility in contemporary developing countries, perhaps because the DHS offers limited measurement of such factors. This paper analyzes extensive information collected on a sub-sample (n=3286) of respondents in the 2003 DHS in Egypt who were re-interviewed in 2004. The analysis examines the inter-relations among fertility ideals, fertility desires, and realized fertility. In regression analysis, effects on all three of these fertility measures are estimated for a large set of explanatory variables, including family background factors, indicators of current social and economic constraints, and perceptions of the costs/benefits of children.

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Presented in Session 32: The Effect of Social Structure on Fertility-Related Behavior