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Demographic transition in Arab countries: A new perspective

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This paper provides a new perspective on the fertility transition in Arab countries. It shows that the story of Arab fertility must be retold: the story is of a region with the highest fertility preferences, exhibiting reluctance to change due to the stranglehold of cultural forces, and just starting to respond to development forces. The paper shows that Arab regional experience is quite comparable to that of other developing countries and that, though the fertility decline occurred at a somewhat later date, the pace of decline more than compensates for this delay. Furthermore, the probing of country level experiences and forces underlying the transition shows the diversities of these experiences and the exaggeration of the role of cultural specificity. It also demonstrates that a large part of the decline in Arab fertility is due to changes in nuptiality. For some segments of society and some countries, these changes are not paralleled by increased opportunities for women to have more fulfilling lives. For these women, the fertility decline is not necessarily improving the quality of their lives and cannot be equated with progress and development.

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Rashad, H. Demographic transition in Arab countries: A new perspective. Journal of Population Research 17, 83–101 (2000).

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