Religion as a Possible Determinant of Fertility Rate Term Paper

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Religion as a Determinant in Fertility

Summary and suggestions

The studies reviewed and analyzed take a look at how religion affects birth and fertility in married or paired women throughout the world, Austria, India and Canada in particular. In Canada, minority women make up a large proportion of the population and represent many countries, with recent immigrants being in the majority, and therefore the Canadian study is most relevant to the determinants of the conclusion.

Most studies have found that women's fertility rate is determined by religion and other variants, sometimes equally, such as cultural, socioeconomic, age at time of birth, education, income and urban or rural position. These factors are found to be determinants as indirect causal mechanisms and their importance is borne out in the results of all studies.

Research Questions

Subjects of studies are asked their ages, desired number of children, numbers of live births, marital status, cultural group, racial group and religious denomination, as well as variations of these questions for different studies.


The hypothesis with which this review and study is undertaken is that religion accounts for, in large part, the number of children born to a woman. Policy makers who wish to reduce the birth rates in their countries may look at the results of such a factor and cooperate with religious leaders in order to effect the desired objectives.

Literature Review

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Socioeconomic Factors on Fertility Rate, Compared to Religion

Term Paper on Religion as a Possible Determinant of Fertility Rate Assignment

After economic standing, a study by Lutz attempts to account for the effects of culture and religion on fertility rates. This study tries to assess the effects of culture and religion on fertility after accounting for a country's socioeconomic standing. Estimates for covariance models are analyzed for 128 countries between 1950 and 1975. The gross reproduction rate is the dependant variable and independent variables are infant mortality rates, aggregate standing of female education and gross domestic product per person. Categorical variables for religion and cultural region are taken into account as well. Surprisingly, even though socioeconomic standing is higher, European countries have lower fertility rates than Arab countries. Culture and religion have a measurable effect on fertility and in Arab countries it is positive. Catholicism's fertility rate is decreasing, as are other religions, yet Islam maintains a steady fertility rate. As measured by regional variables, the effect of culture on the level of national fertility has been increasing, while socioeconomic effects have decreased.

The socioeconomic indicators of 128 countries are related in Lutz' study by time series during 1975 and are related to gross reproduction rates (GRR) in multivariate and bivariate analysis. These 128 countries represent 97.4% of the world's population and in this study are compared on linear as well as logistic functional bases. China and other countries are grouped geographically and culturally, with variables for these in the equations. Short-term economic determinants are certain aspects of economic and sociological fertility analysis. Changes in the social system and how much norms are forced on the public were considered in the development of the analytical framework, as they effect short-term economic and sociological rates, which in turn affect fertility. Data is obtained from UN publications.

Differences in fertility rates are especially noticeable between less developed countries, as compared to more developed countries, so countries with GRRs above 2.0 and below are noted. "Explanatory values of the models of multivariate analysis are generally very high with the RZs ranging from 0.73-0.97, depending on the weighting used and on the specification of the model. Mutlicollinearity was reduced by transformation and aggregation of variables" explains Lutz.

Religion as a Factor in Fertility Rates Among Hindus and Muslims

In a study by Lutz, the female's age at time of birth was the most important variable in explaining the differences in fertility, yet no causal link in age and birth is assumed. Life expectancy was also a good indicator of the health and quality of life of the mother, which can change birth rates. The educational status of the female was the second most important variable in birth rates. Educational status of females compared to men also shows that social status is relevant for fertility. Other studies bears out the factor of education in lower birth rates. Income effect on fertility appears insignificant; however agricultural determinants were other economic factors included

According to Lutz, religion showed up as significant for differentials in fertility when all the other variables were equal. It appears that in Europe, North America, and China, fertility has a tendency to be lower than would be expected from the level of socioeconomic development when comparing all the countries culturally and geographically, whereas fertility is higher in Islamic and Central American countries. Table 5 of the Appendix shows a study of races, religions and other related factors in birth rates. Longitudinal comparisons show cultural factors have become increasingly important in different fertility rates from 1950 through 1975, while economic development became less important.

On the other hand, Rao, in an article called the communalization of population growth, claims it is "dangerous to attribute birth rates to religion. Some propaganda proposes the following myths: that Hindus have only one wife and Muslims many; that Islam forbids family planning and Hinduism does not; that Muslims have a higher birth rate." He supplies statistical evidence to refute these claims, showing the rate of polygynous marriage is 5.80% among Hindus and 5.73% among Muslims, meaning Muslims have a lower incidence. Temporary methods of contraception are allowed in Islam, called "fatwas, but it forbids sterilizations and abortions. In the Muslim countries of Turkey, Egypt, and Indonesia, contraceptives are much used. But Rao claims that when religion and monthly expenditures per capita are compared, that religion is not the significant variable. He shows that socioeconomic factors affect fertility, but Hindus and Muslims have a mix of socioeconomic groups. Indian population forecasts predict that Hindus will eventually outnumber Muslims. Muslim communities have been in decline in the urban and rural areas. He compares the Malabar region of Kerala and Uttar Pradesh, which shows that Malabar has a 40% Muslim population yet has a 15% lower birth rate than Muslims in Uttar Pradesh. Rao concludes "that the evidence does not support the myths; religion is not a primary determining factor."

Bangladesh Fertility Survey (BFS) data from 1975 were used by Chaudhury to test the hypotheses that "the higher the socioeconomic status, the lower the fertility and the narrower the difference in fertility between Muslims and Hindus; and the lower the socioeconomic status, the higher the fertility and the greater the difference in fertility between Muslims and Hindus." He used women married only once and reported to fecund as a core group, including 3914 Muslims and 824 Hindus. To analyze the data, he used multiple classification analysis (MCA). Before adjusting other variables, it was noted that the fertility of Muslims was a little lower than that of Hindus on a variant of 3.89 for Muslims to 3.95 for Hindus. Again, fertility declined with higher socioeconomic status. It increased in proportion to the level of education, being lower with no formal and primary level, and almost converging at the middle and higher educational levels. At lower levels of education (no formal and 1-5 grades), Muslims had.19-.34 children more than Hindus. This difference was reduced to.07 children at the middle level education, i.e., 6-9 grades. At higher levels of education, Muslims had.09 fewer children than Hindus, a significant statistic.

Before adjusting for the effect of other variables, Muslim fertility was higher than that of Hindus at almost age at marriage. This picture reversed when adjustment was made for other variables. At lower ages at marriage, Muslims has.23-.20 more children than Hindus. At the middle age at marriage, Muslims had.08 fewer children than Hindus. Again, the difference was significant statistically from almost no difference between the two groups at the higher age at marriage (20-21 years). Urbanization and education's effect on fertility differed for Hindus and Muslims. Fertility at each level of education was higher for Hindus in urban areas. For Muslims, it was lower in urban areas. While no difference was found in the use of contraception between Muslims and Hindus at higher levels of education, contraceptive use among Hindus was significantly higher than for Muslims at lower levels of education. This suggests that improvement in education will cause fertility to decline, as there is a corresponding increase in the use of contraception, and eventually differences in fertility and use of contraception between Muslims and Hindus will be erased. These findings also indicate that education is the best formula for reducing fertility in poor countries.

In India, Hindu and Muslim differentials in fertility were also studied by Balasubramanian, using census data and 11 surveys. An explanation of fertility differences was offered in that studies show Urbanization and modernization trends will have greater effect on the fertility rate than religion. He noted in the general population the proportion of Muslims increased and the proportion of Hindus decreased before and after partition of the country. Afterward (between 1951-71) the… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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