Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Determinants of Birth Interval Dynamics in Kohgylooye and Bovairahmad Province, Iran

Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Determinants of Birth Interval Dynamics in Kohgylooye and Bovairahmad Province, Iran

Article excerpt


In most developing countries, research on fertility largely examines the causes and consequences of total fertility, either complete or incomplete. Less attention has been paid to the timing of births. Timing nonetheless, has been shown to have important effects on population growth, family finances, and women's roles in society (Wilkie, 1981). For example, a rapid first birth is associated with an increased likelihood of second and higher completed fertility (Millan and Hendershot, 1980; Trussel and Menken, 1987).This relationship appears to be robust and true even when controls for potential sources of spuriousness are present (Marini, 1981 ). Early childbearing also increases population growth rate (Pohlman, 1968).

Studies on timing of births have mainly focused on timing of parenthood (or first birth). A few studies have examined the timing and relative risk of first and higher order births in traditional and developing countries (Dewit and Rajulton, 1992; Abdullah Khan and Raeside, 1998).

This paper, therefore, presents an analysis of several, socio-economic and biological characteristics that may influence the relative risks and the timing of early births in Iran.

In terms of overall objectives, this paper analyzes the determinants of first, second and third birth intervals in KAB province, Iran. The specific objectives are: (a) to discuss problems of model specification in birth interval analysis; (b) to examine the timing of first, second, and third birth intervals; and (c) to test the hypothesis that all important variations in fertility are captured by differences in marriage, breastfeeding, contraception, and induced abortion.

The Setting

Background and Demographic Profile

The province of KAB is located in the south-west mountainous region of Iran. According to the 1996 census, this province had a population of 550000, which account for 0.9 percent of Iran's population. In recent years, when the population totals of the latest census were released, the province attracted the attention of population scientists and policy makers due to substantial decreases in fertility during the 1986-1996 decade. The crude birth rate (CBR) dropped by 43 percent from 55.5 to 31.6 and total fertility rate (TFR) by 50.6 percent from 8.7 to 4.3. In Iran, CBR dropped by 60 percent from 49.6 to 20.5 and the TFR 59 percent from 7.1 to 2.96. (Iran Statistical Centre, 2000).

Though fertility has declined substantially, the circumstances under which it has declined in a relatively less developed province are different from the rest of Iran. The nomadic way of life is still dominant in the area and the majority of people earn their living by raising cattle and doing traditional farming. Social structure is based on a well organized tribal system. The population is largely rural (61 percent), a small number of employed persons are in the manufacturing industry (4.2 percent), a low level female literacy rate (68 percent), and very young age at first marriage (17.3 years). Despite all of this, fertility has declined.

Family Planning Profile

The Imperial Government of Iran adopted a national family planning policy in 1966 and established an active family planning program in 1967. The population and family planning program (FPP) of Iran was launched in an environment that could hardly be regarded as favorable for its survival and success. The majority of the population, particularly those living in rural areas, was illiterate and highly tradition - bound. Infant mortality was high, about 110 per thousand (Iran Statistical Center, 1999), and due to the absence of a social security system most parents regarded high fertility not only of religious value but also as an insurance against potential loss of children and old age poverty. Most of the reform measures undertaken by the imperial government were rejected by religious leaders and political opponents.

When the Islamic Revolution erupted in 1978, the family planning program was shut down and disbanded. …

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