Fertility regulation in Iran: an analysis of reproductive life history and synthetic parity progression ratios

Meimanat Hosseini Chavoshi, Australian National University
Mohammad Jalal Abbasi-Shavazi, University of Tehran and Australian National University
Peter McDonald, Australian National University

While a significant body of literature has addressed fertility decline in Iran and its major associates, most of these studies focus on conventional age-based measures of fertility. This paper aims to use detailed parity based measures to fully understand the dynamic reproductive behavior of Iranian women. As a result of major political changes in Iran fertility reached to the highest level of 7 births per woman after 1979-Islamic revolution. Our findings confirm the onset of fertility decline in the mid-1980s, a few years earlier than the government-led fertility control policy in 1989, reaching replacement level within a decade, and remaining relatively stable at around 2.0. Using reproductive life history analysis, factors of women’s education and long term contraceptive use with back-up usage of termination explain well the course of the fertility transition before 2000. Comparison of parity progressions for real and synthetic cohorts after 2000 reveal that in Iran only minor tempo effects in each parity progression occur, and thus these effects do not significantly influence the total fertility rate. Tempo effects arise mainly from increasing age at first birth and there has been little rise in age at first birth among Iranian women. Indeed, more than 93 per cent of women had their first birth within average interval of 2-3 years. The childbearing lifespan has shrunk with women under 25 years contributing nearly half of the level of fertility in contrast with other developed countries where most births occur in late twenties due to the rise in the mean age at first birth. Our findings suggest that marriage, fast progression to first child after marriage and desire for having the second child are norms of childbearing among Iranian families. These insights are useful for the purpose of formulating feasible strategies and policies to prevent further decline in Iran’s fertility.

  See extended abstract

Presented in Session 22: Measuring fertility