Volume 45 - Article 19 | Pages 605–652  

An investigation of Jordan’s fertility stall and resumed decline: The role of proximate determinants

By Caroline Krafft, Elizabeth Kula, Maia Sieverding


Background: Fertility stalls have been observed in numerous African and Middle Eastern countries. From the late 1990s until 2011 the fertility transition in Jordan was stalled, with the total fertility rate (TFR) well above replacement level.

Objective: This paper demonstrates a resumption of fertility decline in Jordan since 2012 and investigates the background and proximate determinants behind the decline.

Methods: Fertility trends among Jordanians are analyzed using the Jordan Labor Market Panel Survey (JLMPS) 2010 and 2016 waves and the Jordan Population and Family Health Survey (JPFHS) 2002 to 2017/2018 rounds. We estimate age-specific and total fertility rates over time and conduct a proximate-determinants decomposition. We also examine the evolution of fertility by age, education, and parity, testing for meaningful changes over time in a multivariate framework.

Results: Fertility among Jordanians declined from a TFR of 3.8 in 2009/2010 to 3.3 in JLMPS 2016 and 2.6 in JPFHS 2017/2018. Vital statistics data are more consistent with the JLMPS estimate. Declines in fertility occurred across age groups and education levels and have parity-specific components. The proximate-determinants decomposition does not identify a clear driver of resumed fertility decline. Age at marriage increased steadily but slowly over time, yet contraceptive use among currently married women declined over time. The ideal number of children decreased less than observed fertility.

Contribution: This paper discusses one of the first cases of a country in the Middle East and North Africa coming out of a fertility stall. It is an important contribution to understanding future demographic trajectories in the region.

Author's Affiliation

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