Arab nations shift from frequent childbirth
Rising expectations of newlyweds living in their own homes and broader use of family planning in certain parts of the Arab world have drastically changed population dynamics in the region, with women marrying later and having few children, the statistics firm Gapminder reported last week.
In a series of graphics compiled and posted on the company website, the sharp demographic trends in Tunisia and Libya are offered as examples of the shift away from early marriage and frequent childbirth in Arab nations.
“In 1973, the average Libyan woman had 7.6 children and married at the age of 19,” Gapminder said Friday, explaining the sweeping regressive lines of its chart on Arab women's fertility. By 2005, the chart shows, Libyan women were marrying at 29 on average and giving birth to 2.9 children.
The trend has been similar in Tunisia, the firm said, with the average age for first marriage rising over the same three-decade period from 22 to 29, and childbearing dropping from nearly seven per married woman to two.
Declining fertility has been the pattern across the Arab world, but at a slower pace in some countries, such as Yemen and the Palestinian territories, Gapminder reports.
The average age of marriage has remained constant at about 22 for Yemeni and Palestinian women, but the average number of children has dropped from 7.3 to 5.9 in Yemen and from 8 to 4.8 for Palestinians, the company said.
The number crunchers at Gapfinder attribute the shifting family dynamics to social change, even in what is often viewed as the tradition-bound Muslim world.
“Today a couple is expected to have their own place to live as married. Many families have to save for a long time before their children are able to marry,” the analysts said. “This social norm is a relative new phenomenon and a major explanation for the increased age at marriage.”
Gapfinder also posted a geographically color-coded map showing the average age when women first marry in each country, indicating Arab women are on a path toward the Western European tradition of delaying marriage.
Perhaps because of falling birthrates in the region, official pressure continues to be exerted on young couples to reproduce for a more populous and powerful country.
On Thursday, Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, aired an appeal to Iranian couples to produce more babies and grow the 80 million population to 150 million at “minimum,” the Al Arabiya website reported.
“Young image is an essential and important issue for the country,” Khamenei said, according to an account by the Islamic Republic News Agency of his address to a national population conference.
He warned that countries with aging populations face tremendous difficulties in growing their economies and improving living standards.
Iranian women rank 146th in the world in their fertility rate, with women giving birth to an average of 1.86 children in their lifetimes, the CIA World Factbook reports.
Early childbirth has been on the decline worldwide in recent decades, the U.N. Population Fund reported last week.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- NSA leaker Snowden wants to come home to U.S.
- Canadian, Japanese physicists win Nobel for neutrino work
- North Korea frees NYU student
- Dead families huddled, died in Guatemala mudslide
- Car bombs across Iraq kill 56
- U.S. military struggles to explain bombing of Afghan hospital
- 3 share Nobel medicine prize for tropical disease drugs
- NATO rebukes Russia on airspace abuse in Turkey
- France tells Russia to target Islamic State militants, not rebels in Syria
- Packages explode, kill at least 7 in southern China
- Afghan charity hospital bombed; Defense Secretary Carter vows full investigation