Slow fertility transitions in Central Asian republics

Marie Ladier-Fouladi, CNRS - EHESS

Fertility in different Republics of the former Soviet Union was always varied even though the political system was homogenous and the country was politically unified. While fertility level in European Republics of the former USSR was already low and trended to decline even more since the 1960s, the fertility level remained high in Eastern Republics, particularly in the five Central Asian Republics of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyz. Despite the fact that the fertility was at different levels in these last Republics, it began to decline slowly since the mid-1970s. After more than 30 years the process of fertility transition is not yet achieved in these republics (Kazakhstan expected). Cultural and religious factors such as Islam, the religion of the majority of Central Asian people, are often blamed for this delayed and slow fertility transition. Although the influence of religion cannot be denied, we believe it doesn’t constitute the main reason. We put forward the hypothesis that the Soviet regime, instead of radically changing the existent traditional social structures in theses Republics, propped them up in order to control these Republics efficiently. We explain the delayed beginning of this transition and its slow rate by domination of patriarchal traditions and poor socio-economic environment in these Republics. The aim of this paper is to study fertility trends and the principal determinants that have influenced fertility in these five Republics. We focus on the examination of different factors in order to demonstrate the effects of patriarchal traditions; we have to remember that Islam does not have monopoly of patriarchal traditions. This study will be based on data provided by DHS conducted in the last four Republics at different periods during the 1990s. In regards to the Republic of Tajikistan, the data comes from the State Committee on Statistics.

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Presented in Session 36: Completing Fertility Transition in Asia