Population Research and Policy Review

, Volume 30, Issue 3, pp 449–465

Does Religion Influence Fertility in Developing Countries


DOI: 10.1007/s11113-010-9196-8

Cite this article as:
Heaton, T.B. Popul Res Policy Rev (2011) 30: 449. doi:10.1007/s11113-010-9196-8


This paper examines religious group differences in fertility in developing nations. Using data from the Demographic and Health Surveys of 30 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, this paper documents Muslim/Christian and Catholic/Protestant differences in the number of children under age 5. The paper also considers possible explanations for these differences including level of development, religious mix, social characteristics and proximate determinants of fertility. Muslim fertility is substantially higher than Christian fertility in many countries, but the average difference between Catholics and Protestants is small. Cross-national variation in group differences is at least as large as the average difference. Although level of development, social characteristics and proximate determinants play an important role in religious differences, they do not explain cross-national variation in these differences.


Fertility Religion Developing countries 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Brigham Young UniversityProvoUSA

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