Changes in family-building patterns in Egypt and Morocco: A comparative analysis

Type Journal Article - International Family Planning Perspectives
Title Changes in family-building patterns in Egypt and Morocco: A comparative analysis
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2000
Page numbers 73-78
Context: Although both Egypt and Morocco experienced important declines in fertility over the past few decades, the pace of that decline was much faster in Morocco than in Egypt. Relatively little is known about the extent to which patterns of family building in both countries explain differentials in the pace of fertility decline.

Methods: The data for analysis come from the 1980 and 1979-1980 World Fertility Surveys conducted in Egypt and Morocco, respectively, and from each country's 1995 Demographic and Health Survey. These data are used to calculate life-table estimates of the cumulative proportions of women who progressed to each successive parity within five years of the previous one. The data are also used to calculate singulate mean age at marriage and the median length of birth intervals.

Results: From the late 1970s to the mid-1990s, fertility declined by 44% in Morocco and by 28% in Egypt, reflecting a drop in both the level and pace of childbearing. The cumulative proportions of women progressing to each successive parity fell by at least 25% at each parity transition after the transition between a third and fourth birth in Egypt; the pattern was more mixed in Morocco, with declines fluctuating between 11% and 27%, starting at the transition between a second and third birth. Moreover, the median length of time between births increased over the period, especially in the intervals between births at parities 2-4 in Morocco (increases of 4.2-4.7 months) and at parities 1-3 in Egypt (increases of 3.0-3.6 months). Among the factors contributing to these fertility declines was a rise over the period in the singulate mean age at marriage (by five years in Morocco and by one year in Egypt).

Conclusions: The adoption of effective family planning programs by both countries, which are increasingly enabling women to meet their desire for smaller families, may be responsible for the significant changes in the reproductive behavior of married women in Egypt and Morocco.

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