Education and the World's most rapid fertility decline in Iran

Mohammad J. Abbasi-Shavazi , University of Tehran
Wolfgang Lutz, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Meimanat Hosseini Chavoshi, University of Tehran
Samir K.C., International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

A first analysis of the Iran 2006 census results shows a sensationally low fertility level of 1.9 for the whole country and only 1.5 for the Teheran area (which after all has about 8 million people). The lowest TFR of 1.3 has been recorded for Gilan and Mazandaran provinces. In a recent study, Abbasi Shavazi and McDonald (2006) emphesized on the likely role of greatly improved female education in this trend. However, this hypothesis has not been thorouhgly tested yet, and they have not provided any formal analysis on this important factor. In the conclusions they express the expectation that fertility in Iran would continue to fall below replacement level. This paper will follow-up on the above described one in two important ways: 1. It will present fertility estimates based on the 2006 census which indicate a substantial further fertility decline, and 2. It will present reconstructions (back to 1970) and projections (to 2020) of the popoulation of Iran by age, sex and level of educational attainment. It will decompose quantitatively to what extent this precipitous fertility decline can be attributed to the rapidly increasing educational attainment of women. We also draw more general conclusions for theories of fertility decline.

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Presented in Session 36: Completing Fertility Transition in Asia