Determinants Of The Dynamic Changes In Iran’s Fertility Rate

The drivers of fertility rate have been studied in the literature in global, regional and national scale for a long period. A number of previous studies suppose that fertility rate may be affected due to changes in political institutions, female education, income, household expenditures, marriage age, urbanization, globalization, etc. Instead of the approach towards fertility rate situations from a global perspective, I would like to focus on the case of Iran to identify which certain factors and situations in this country may drive the dynamic changes in its fertility rate.

In this post, I mainly point out my motivation for the case of Iran as well as my approach for a deeper analysis in this topic.

The decline in Iran’s fertility rate is considered as one of the most important demographic changes in recent years. The total fertility rate, which refers to the average number of children a woman would bear over her lifetime, has experienced a dramatic reduction in Iran for the last five decades.  According to World Development Indicators (2017), the fertility rate in Iran decreases sharply from about seven children per woman in 1960 to nearly two children per woman in 2015. In comparison with other countries in the same region, in the last 5 years, the average fertility rate in Iran accounts for 1.72, whereas this figure is 4.23, 4.58, 4.95 and 2.85 in Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan and MENA region respectively. The reason why Iran has made great effort to reduce its fertility rate might be due to high economic costs of high level in fertility rate. Looking back to a remarkable baby boom in the 1980s, Iran has been still struggling with economic burdens to provide occupation and housing (Karamouzian et al., 2014). Therefore, the demographic transition has significant impact on the economic growth of this country in the long run. In order to provide an appropriate population control policy in Iran, it is vital to find out which other elements determine the fertility rate.

This topic also appeals to my interest because of the following reason. Iran has experienced a number of demographic policies as well as notable events throughout its social and political periods. First, an outstanding policy of Iranian government as an effort to control for population and fertility is known as the family planning program. This program was first launched in 1966 aiming at promoting economic growth and improving woman’s status; however, there was no considerable change in the fertility rate during the late 1960s and early 1970s (Abbasi and Mcdonald, 2006). After that, due to some political and social changes from the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the family planning program was postponed. In the next stage, the country faced a period of the war with Iraq from 1980 to 1988. This war leads to a “pro-natalist atmosphere by which families were encouraged to have more children and economic incentives were provided.” (Abbasi and Mcdonald, 2006). At this time, a large population is regarded as one of the huge advantages; the government thereby aimed to achieve this advantage by setting a new population policy. According to Karamouzian et al. (2014), the family planning program was reversed and the government proposed a number of social and economic utilities to encourage greater family sizes. The next period witnesses a remarkable drop in Iran’s fertility rate that highlights the success of the government after they established a new population program in 1989 (Abbasi and Mcdonald, 2006). This policy effectively encouraged couples to have fewer children and Iran’s fertility rate has followed a downward trend afterwards. In short, Iran has experienced diverse socio-economic and political situations, which may create many drivers for the dynamic change in Iran’s fertility rate.

All of the previous figures and facts raise my incentives for further investigation on which factors driving these dynamic changes in Iran’s fertility rate.

In the analysis of this topic, I divide fertility rate determinants into three categories: economic determinants, political determinants and socio-culture determinants. I would analyze the impact of those determinants on the dynamic changes in Iran’s fertility rate by providing both theoretical approach and empirical evidence. The study of those effects reinforces the understanding on dynamic changes in fertility rate as well as the control of fertility rate – a significant factor for economic performance in Iran in the long-run.


Abbasi-Shavazi, M.J., Mcdonald, P., 2006. Fertility decline in the Islamic Republic of Iran: 1972-2000, Asian Population Studies, DOI: 10.1080/17441730601073789.

Karamouzian, M., Sharifi, H., Haghdoost, A.A., 2014. Iran’s shift in family planning policies: concerns and challenges, International Journal of Health Policy and Management, 3(5), pp. 231–233, DOI:  10.15171/ijhpm.2014.81.

World Bank, 2017. World Development Indicators.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s