Analysis of economic determinants of fertility in Iran: a multilevel approach

Maryam Moeeni, Tehran University of Medical Sciences
Abolghasem Pourreza, Tehran University of Medical Sciences
Fatemeh Torabi, University of Tehran

According to Population Reference Bureau (2011), during the last three decades, total fertility rate in Iran has fallen considerably from 6.5 for each woman in 1983 to 1.89 in 2010 which is below the replacement fertility rate. This study analyzes the extent to which economic determinants at micro and macro levels are associated with fertility of Iranian households. The household data from the 2010 Household Expenditure and Income Survey is linked with provincial data from the 2010 Iran Multiple-Indicator Demographic and Health survey, the National Census of Population and Housing conducted in 1986, 1996, 2006 and 2011, and the Iran statistical year books from 1985 to 2010. The data has a two-level hierarchical structure in which 13952 households with married couples nested within thirty provinces. A random intercept multilevel Poisson regression function is specified based on a collective model of intra-household bargaining power in which spouses’ bargaining power is measured through extra-household gender gap indices. At the first level, probability of having more children drops significantly as either real per capita educational expenditure or real total expenditure rises supporting the Becker’s theory of “quality and quantity of children”. The preferences of Iranian parents have shifted toward fewer but more qualified children. Besides, ceteris paribus, both low and high income households have higher probability of having a larger number of children compared to middle income households. At the second level, living in provinces with either higher value added of manufacturing industries or lower house rent is associated to higher probability of having more children. Higher levels of gender gap indices, resulting in woman’s limited power over household decision making, positively affect probability of having more children. The results indicate that economic determinants at micro and macro levels together with distribution of bargaining power between spouses influence fertility behavior in Iran.

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Presented in Session 25: Prospects of fertility determinants worldwide