Pakistan Institute of Development Economics



Fertility Transition in Pakistan: Evidence from Census

In the absence of an accurate and complete registration system, efforts were made to estimate the levels of vital statistics through sample surveys. The first such effort was made through the Population Growth Estimation (PGE) project conducted from January, 1962 to December 1965. Later on, various demographic surveys were conducted almost at regular intervals and the last effort in the series was Pakistan Reproductive Health and Family Planning Survey (PRHFPS) in the year 2000-01. Although all these efforts were made to ascertain levels and trends of various demographic events, yet the estimates particularly the ones on fertility remained controversial. The first signal of fertility reduction was emanated from the 1975 Pakistan Fertility Survey (PFS) which estimated a Total Fertility Rate (TFR) of 6.3 children from over 7 children estimated earlier from PGE data. However, all hopes of the onset of fertility transition were shattered by the [Retherford’s, et al. (1987)] study entitled “Fertility Trend in Pakistan: The Decline that Wasn’t”. By using the Own Children Method, they confirmed that the decline in fertility was an artifact of the data. Another study by Shah, Pullum, and Irfan (1986) also termed the fertility decline shown by the PFS data as spurious. The Pakistan Labour Force and Migration Survey, conducted five years later, in 1979-80, estimated a TFR of 6.5 children, thus providing another proof supporting the fact that fertility had not declined to the extent believed.

Syed Mubashir Ali, Jaffar Hussain