Volume 32 - Article 1 | Pages 1–28
Is Buddhism the low fertility religion of Asia?
|Date received:||20 Jun 2014
|Date published:||06 Jan 2015
|Keywords:||Asia, Buddhism, childbearing, fertility, religion
Background: The influence of religion on demographic behaviors has been extensively studied mainly for Abrahamic religions. Although Buddhism is the world´s fourth largest religion and is dominant in several Asian nations experiencing very low fertility, the impact of Buddhism on childbearing has received comparatively little research attention.
Objective: This paper draws upon a variety of data sources in different countries in Asia in order to test our hypothesis that Buddhism is related to low fertility.
Methods: Religious differentials in terms of period fertility in three nations (India, Cambodia and Nepal) and cohort fertility in three case studies (Mongolia, Thailand and Japan) are analyzed. The analyses are divided into two parts: descriptive and multivariate analyses.
Results: Our results suggest that Buddhist affiliation tends to be negatively or not associated with childbearing outcomes, controlling for education, region of residence, age and marital status. Although the results vary between the highly diverse contextual and institutional settings investigated, we find evidence that Buddhist affiliation or devotion is not related to elevated fertility across these very different cultural settings.
Conclusions: Across the highly diverse cultural and developmental contexts under which the different strains of Buddhism dominate, the effect of Buddhism is consistently negatively or insignificantly related to fertility. These findings stand in contrast to studies of Abrahamic religions that tend to identify a positive link between religiosity and fertility.
Vegard Skirbekk - Columbia University, United States of America
Marcin Stonawski - Uniwersytet Ekonomiczny w Krakowie, Poland
Setsuya Fukuda - National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, Japan
Thomas Spoorenberg - United Nations, United States of America
Conrad Hackett - Pew Research Center, United States of America
Raya Muttarak - International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Austria
Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research
The emergence of birth limitation as a new stage in the fertility transition in sub-Saharan Africa
Volume 42 - Article 30
Forty years of fertility changes in the Sahel
Volume 41 - Article 46
Migration influenced by environmental change in Africa: A systematic review of empirical evidence
Volume 41 - Article 18
Fertility compression in Niger: A study of fertility change by parity (1977–2011)
Volume 39 - Article 24
Are daughters’ childbearing intentions related to their mothers’ socio-economic status?
Volume 35 - Article 21
On the masculinization of population: The contribution of demographic development -- A look at sex ratios in Sweden over 250 years
Volume 34 - Article 37
Reconstructing historical fertility change in Mongolia: Impressive fertility rise before continued fertility decline
Volume 33 - Article 29
The future size of religiously affiliated and unaffiliated populations
Volume 32 - Article 27
When people shed religious identity in Ireland and Austria: Evidence from censuses
Volume 31 - Article 43
Reverse survival method of fertility estimation: An evaluation
Volume 31 - Article 9
A cross-country comparison of math achievement at teen age and cognitive performance 40 years later
Volume 31 - Article 4
Old age mortality in Eastern and South-Eastern Asia
Volume 29 - Article 38
Educational Differences in Divorce in Japan
Volume 28 - Article 6
Projection of populations by level of educational attainment, age, and sex for 120 countries for 2005-2050
Volume 22 - Article 15
Leaving the parental home in post-war Japan: Demographic changes, stem-family norms and the transition to adulthood
Volume 20 - Article 30
What can we learn from indirect estimations on mortality in Mongolia, 1969-1989?
Volume 18 - Article 10
Fertility trends by social status
Volume 18 - Article 5
Decomposing the change in labour force indicators over time
Volume 13 - Article 7
Most recent similar articles in Demographic Research
An exploration of differences in ideal family size between Muslim and non-Muslim women in France
Volume 41 - Article 22 | Keywords: fertility, religion
Parental leave policies and continued childbearing in Iceland, Norway, and Sweden
Volume 40 - Article 51 | Keywords: childbearing, fertility
On the pace of fertility decline in sub-Saharan Africa
Volume 37 - Article 40 | Keywords: Asia, fertility
The impact of kin availability, parental religiosity, and nativity on fertility differentials in the late 19th-century United States
Volume 37 - Article 34 | Keywords: fertility, religion
The contributions of childbearing within marriage and within consensual union to fertility in Latin America, 1980-2010
Volume 34 - Article 29 | Keywords: childbearing, fertility