Fertility, Marriage, and Family Planning in Iran: Implications for Future Policy

Type Journal Article - Population Horizons
Title Fertility, Marriage, and Family Planning in Iran: Implications for Future Policy
Volume 13
Issue 1
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2016
Page numbers 31-40
URL https://www.degruyter.com/downloadpdf/j/pophzn.2016.13.issue-1/pophzn-2016-0005/pophzn-2016-0005.pdf
The Islamic Republic of Iran has experienced a remarkable demographic transition over the last three
decades. As a result of social, demographic and economic changes, Iran’s fertility declined from 7.0 births per
woman in 1980 to around 1.8 to 2.0 in 2011 based on our estimation (McDonald et al. 2015). The initial rise and
rapid fall of fertility accompanied by a decline of child mortality led to a post-revolutionary youth bulge in the
age distribution that will lead to rapid ageing in the longer-term future. Others have argued that Iran’s fertility
has fallen to much lower levels – as low as 1.5 births per woman (eg. Erfani 2013). Such low estimates led to the
Government of Iran adopting a pronatalist policy with the aim of increasing fertility, although the components
of the policy are still under discussion. Different views have been expressed on the role of family planning and
other programs in meeting population policy goals in Iran in the future with some advocating the discontinuation
of government assistance to family planning. This paper aims to review the trends and levels of fertility,
marriage, and family planning and their implications for policy. Using various datasets and detailed paritybased
measures of fertility, the dynamics of fertility regulation practiced by Iranian couples are investigated. Our
findings suggest that contraceptive use stabilized before 2000 and postponement of the first child and wide birth
intervals are the main contributors to the level of fertility. Therefore, instead of discontinuation of the family
planning program, policy to sustain fertility at its present level or a little higher needs to focus upon improving
the economic circumstances of young people so that they are able to make less constrained choices about family
formation than is the case at present.

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