Volume 44 - Article 51 | Pages 1229–1270  

Childbearing intentions among Egyptian men and women: The role of gender-equitable attitudes and women’s empowerment

By Elena Ambrosetti, Aurora Angeli, Marco Novelli


Objective: In a context of economic uncertainty and rising actual and ideal fertility, our analysis addresses the question of what factors can be related to the desired family size for both women and men of different generations.

Methods: Using data from the 2015 Egypt Health Issues Survey (EHIS), we use Poisson regressions to model the factors affecting women’s and men’s ideal number of children. Our main explanatory variables are male and female gender-equitable attitudes and female empowerment.

Results: More traditional gender attitudes are associated with a high level of desired fertility. Women exposed to mass media want fewer children than those not exposed, while no relationship emerged for men. The results regarding women’s empowerment confirm the role of female education, while paid work unexpectedly shows a positive association with the ideal number of children. Our findings show that Egyptian married women’s participation in family decisions is a salient aspect of their agency. Finally, we found that region and type of residence are highly associated with desired fertility for both men and women, confirming the importance of the social context where individuals live in their fertility behaviour.

Contribution: Our work contributes to the existing literature on fertility in two important ways. Firstly, this is the first study of the fertility intentions of both men and women in Egypt. Second, we adopt a gender perspective by analysing the factors affecting the ideal number of children in Egypt, looking at male and female gender-equitable attitudes and women’s empowerment.

Author's Affiliation

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