Testing for the Onset of Fertility Decline: An Illustration with the Case of Egypt

Publication Year : 1993

This paper describes and illustrates how the economic household production model can be taken as a frame of reference to test the stage of the fertility transition for a given society. Egypt during the 1970s and early 1980s is taken as the setting to illustrate the test. Egyptian fertility trends from the mid-1960s to the early 1980s puzzled demographers and social scientists. It was not known if Egypt was at the onset of a’ sustainable fertility decline by the early 1980s. The illustration exercise shows that the Egyptian household fertility behaviour during this period fits poorly with the model specification corresponding to a post-transition society. We find that fertility by the end of the 1970s was, not endogenous to other household decisions, and conclude that a sustained decline in fertility was unlikely without this endogeneity. These results agree with previous literature on the fertility transition in Egypt. The paper concludes with limitations of the empirical test presented, laying emphasis on the lessons learned to examine the stage of the fertility transition in any society. The conclusions also highlight the importance of considering the stage of the transition in order to specify fertility models appropriately.

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