Academic journal article Economics & Sociology

The Socioeconomic Determinants of Fertility Rates in Muslim Countries: A Dynamic Panel Data Analysis

Academic journal article Economics & Sociology

The Socioeconomic Determinants of Fertility Rates in Muslim Countries: A Dynamic Panel Data Analysis

Article excerpt

(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)


Demographic research around the world focuses on declining rates of fertility, especially in the western world, and offers explanations for the currently trending phenomena. However, fertility rates among primarily Muslim nations, while frequently discussed in the media, are understudied with the tools of Econometrics. Even in European countries suffering from low fertility rates, Muslim minorities residing in European countries are believed to have higher fertility rates. This can affect the demographic structure of the European countries in the future. From scholarly books to social media, people express their fears about the possible demographic changes (Hanks, 2006). In 2013, according to Eurostat, the fertility rate across European Union countries was 1.58 whereas the fertility rate among the Muslim countries in this study was 3.12.

The fertility behavior in Muslim countries deserves to be studied in more detail from both economic and sociological perspectives. Becker (1960) was the first to address birth rates using economic reasoning. However, economic reasoning alone does not suffice for this study because some countries in the study have more favorable economic indicators than others, but their fertility rates are not significantly different from each other. Therefore, this study puts forward an econometric analysis of the fertility decisions in Muslim countries using a comparative approach that considers the economic and social background.

The subject is unique in the sense that in predominately Muslim countries civic life has many different aspects when compared to civic life in western countries. This leads researchers to believe that, in addition to the usual economic determinants, Muslim populations have a higher fertility rate due to cultural and societal differences with western countries.

Due to these differences, the fertility rates in Muslim countries emerges as a topic which deserves detailed examination. In fact, there are many studies which try to explain the striking fertility patterns in Muslim nations, but all of these studies use a similar method: they choose a specific region in a specific country where Muslim and non-Muslim populations live simultaneously and acquire samples from this region. For the first time, in the literature, this study will focus on groups of predominately Muslim countries from different parts of the world, such as Africa, the Middle East, Central, East and South Asia and East Europe, and apply the techniques that are prevalent in the literature to see if the conclusions that are drawn from western countries' data are applicable to Muslim countries as well. In particular, we use determinants that were previously used to understand fertility behavior to see if similar determinants explain fertility decisions in Muslim countries as well or if other variables are necessary to explain these decisions. Hence, this study contributes to the literature by employing comprehensive, dynamic econometric analysis of a panel data set at the country level for Muslim nations. By referring to the results of this study and the results of the previous studies that have targeted non-Muslim countries as the main data, researchers will acquire a comparative view to the fertility decisions of Muslim and non-Muslim nations.

The article will provide a general review of the fertility literature, putting special emphasis on Islamic countries. Economic, social and religious aspects of the topic will be covered in the review. Then it will introduce the variables and estimation technique and will give information about the data set. The dynamic model of this study, main variables of which are income, education, labor force participation, contraceptive prevalence, marriage and inequality will be estimated by the dynamic panel data estimation method. The method was originally created by Holtz-Eakin, Newey, & Rosen (1988) and later developed by Arellano & Bond (1991), Arellano & Bover (1995), and Blun dell & Bond (1998). …

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