Contextual and individual effects behind fertility change in the West Bank and Gaza Strip

Simona Bignami, Université de Montréal
Anaïs Simard-Gendron, Université de Montréal

Even though the fertility transition in the West Bank and Gaza Strip is well under way, it is clear that the classical theory of the demographic transition alone cannot explain the ongoing high demand for children in the modern yet conflicting context of the Palestinian territories. Individual-level variables have always been the main focus of studies on Palestinian fertility. However, the role of contextual variables is of central importance to best capture the mechanisms of fertility change in the region. To better understand the recent fertility behaviour of Palestinian women, we use the most recent retrospective data available from the Demographic and Health survey conducted by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics in 2004 by modeling a multilevel discrete-time logistic regression on the complete birth histories of ever-married women aged 15-49 at the time of the survey. Regional characteristics representing the proportion of Jewish settlers, the status of women, and infant mortality are the three main contextual dimensions considered in this study. We argue that the status of women, especially through higher education, is the main factor behind the decline of Palestinian fertility, especially among older women. The decline in infant mortality only has a slightly negative impact on fertility. Finally, the presence of Jewish settlers contributes to decrease Palestinian fertility as regions with a higher proportion of settlers had a significantly lower fertility.

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Presented in Session 13: Contextual characteristics of fertility behaviour