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

Open access

Abstract

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 parity-based 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.

References

  • Abbasi-Shavazi, M.J., 1997, An assessment of the own-children method of estimating fertility by birthplace in Australia, Journal of the Australian Population Association, 14(2): 167-185.

  • Abbasi-Shavazi, M., McDonald, P., & Hosseini-Chavoshi, M., 2009. The Fertility Transition in Iran: Revolution and Reproduction. Dordrecht: Springer.

  • Abbasi-Shavazi, MJ., Inhorn, M., Razeghi-Nasrabad, H. B. and G. Toloo, 2008, The Iranian ART Revolution: Infertility, Assisted Reproductive Technologies, and Third-Party Donation in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, 4(2): 1-28.

  • Akhondi, M.M., Kamali, K., Ranjbar, F., Shirzad, M., Shafeghati, S., Behjati Ardakani, Z., Goodjani, A., Parsaeian, M., and Mohammad, K., 2013, Prevalence of Primary Infertility in Iran in 2010, Iranian Journal of Public Health, 42(12):1398-404.

  • Amani, M. (1996) ‘An attempt on historical outlook of the trends of births and death rates and study of the stage of demographic transition in Iran’ [in Persian], Journal of Population, vol. 1314, pp. 7183.

  • Cho, L. J., W. H. Grabill, and D. J. Bogue. 1970. Differential Current Fertility in the United States Chicago, University of Chicago.

  • Erfani, Amir. 2013. Tehran Survey of Fertility Intentions, 2012: Final Report. Tehran, Iran: Population Studies and Research Centre in Asia and Pacific, Ministry of Science, Research, and Technology.

  • Feeney, G. 1983, Population dynamics based on birth intervals and parity progression, Population Studies, 37 (1): 75-89.

  • Feeney, G. and Yu, J. 1987, Period parity measures of fertility in China, Population Studies, 41 (1): 77-102.

  • Hinde, A. 1998. Demographic Methods. Arnold, London.

  • Hosseini-Chavoshi, M., McDonald, P., and MJ. Abbasi-Shavazi, 2007, Fertility and Contraceptive Use Dynamics In Iran: Special focus on Low Fertility Regions, Australian Demographic and Social Research Institute, Working Papers, No. 1, Australian National University, Canberra.

  • Hosseini-Chavoshi, M & Abbasi-Shavazi, M 2015, ‘Unintended Pregnancy among Iranian Young Women: Incidence, Correlates and Outcomes’, Asia-Pacific Population Journal, vol. 30, no. 1, pp. 95-118.

  • Hosseini-Chavoshi, M., McDonald, P. and MJ. Abbasi-Shavazi, 2006, The Iranian Fertility Decline, 1981-1999: an Application of the Synthetic Parity Progression Ratio Method, Population, 61(5-6): 701-718.

  • Inhorn, Marcia C.; Tremayne, Soraya (2012). Islam and Assisted Reproductive Technologies: Sunni and Shia Perspectives. New York: Berghahn Books. ISBN 0857454900.Jones, G.W. (2007). Fertility decline in Asia: The role of marriage change, Asia-Pacific Population Journal, vol. 22, No. 2, pp. 13-32.

  • Mahmoudi, M.J. 2013. Population transition in Iran, Future challenges, and necessity of population policies reviews. Bardasht-e Dovvom Quarterly, No. 11-12, pp.41-73.

  • Moinifar, M, 2016. Patterns of Single child families and infertility in Iran, Unpublished MA thesis in Demography, Department of Demography, University of Tehran (Farsi).

  • Moshfegh, M, Mahmoudi, M.J. and Haghshenas, N. 2012. Prospects of population transition in Iran: the necessity of population policies reviews. Journal of Women Strategic Studies, No. 55, pp.151-172.

  • McDonald, P., Hosseini-Chavoshi, M., Abbasi-Shavazi, MJ, and Rashidian, A. 2015, Assessment of Iranian fertility trends using parity progression ratios, Demographic Research, Vol 32 (article 58): 1581−1602. DOI: 10.4054/DemRes.2015.32.58

  • Ni Bhrolchain, M. 1987, Period parity progression ratios and birth intervals in England and Wales, 1941-19771: A synthetic life table analysis, Population Studies, 41 (1): 103-125.

  • Ogawa, N. (2003). Japan’s changing fertility mechanisms and its policy implications, Journal of Population Research, vol. 20, No. 1, pp. 89-106.

  • Ogawa, N., and R. Retherford. 1993. The resumption of fertility decline in Japan: 1972-1992. Population and Development Review 19(4): 703-741.

  • Padidar-Nia, H. (1977) Population Dynamics in Iran: New Estimates on Mortality and Fertility, PhD Thesis, University Microfilms International, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA.

  • Parliament of the Islamic Republic of Iran (Majlis), 2013. The Comprehensive Population and Exaltation of Family Law, Islamic Parliament (Legislative Deputy), 9th cycle, 2nd year, Published on 18th of June, 2013, No. 596, Reg. No. 315.Population Council, 2014, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Iran’s Population Policy, Population and Development Review, Vol 40(3): 573-575.

  • Retherford, R.D. and Ogawa, N. (1978). Decomposition of the change in the total fertility rate in the Republic of Korea, 1966-70. Social Biology, vol. 25, No. 2, pp. 115-127.

  • Retherford, R.D., and J.R. Rele. 1989. A decomposition of recent fertility changes in South Asia.’ Population and Development Review 15(4):739-747.

  • Retherford, R. D., L. J. Cho, and N. I. Kim. 1984. ‘Census-derived estimates of fertility by duration since first marriage in the Republic of Korea.’ Demography 21(4):537-558.

  • Sadeghi, R., 2012. Changes in the age structure and emergence of the Demographic window in Iran: Economic outcomes and policy implications, Quarterly of Women’s Strategic Studies, 55, pp. 95-150.

  • Salehi-Isfahani, D., Abbasi-Shavazi, M.J., and Hosseini- Chavoshi, M., 2010, Family Planning and fertility decline in rural Iran: An evaluation, Health Economics, 19: 159-180.

  • Vahidi, S. Ardalan, A., and Mohammad, K., 2006, Prevalence of primary infertility in the Islamic Republic of Iran during 2004-2005, Journal of Fertilty and Infertility, Vol 7, No. 3, pp. 243-251.

Population Horizons

Analysis and debate on policy questions raised by population change

Journal Information

Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 33 33 33
PDF Downloads 9 9 9