Volume 50 - Article 21 | Pages 547–582  

Religion and contraceptive use in Kazakhstan: A study of mediating mechanisms

By Maxim Kan


Background: Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, religiosity has resurged in post-Soviet Kazakhstan. However, since the late 1990s, research on religion’s impact on contraceptive use and differences between religious groups has been lacking. Islam and Christianity align with the major ethnicities, Kazakhs and Russians, and show variation in fertility and demographic transition stages.

Objective: This study aims to explore contraceptive use variation among religious affiliations and to understand the underlying mechanisms.

Methods: Using Kazakhstan’s 2020 Generations and Gender Survey, this research employs causal mediation analysis and linear probability models.

Results: The findings indicate lower contraceptive use among Muslims than Christians. Religiosity and desired children partially explain these differences. Notably, religious affiliation does not mediate through education, employment, or self-assessed wealth, suggesting other contextual factors are at play.

Conclusions: Current theories inadequately explain diverse family planning patterns within one nation. Further investigation is needed to rectify misconceptions about contraceptive permissibility and encourage sexual education in order to overcome cultural taboos around reproductive health.

Contribution: This research enriches family planning literature in post-Soviet countries and Central Asia. By dissecting the links between religion and contraceptive use, these insights extend to similar contexts beyond Central Asia, encompassing middle-income countries with diverse populations.

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