The Path to Replacement Fertility in Egypt: Acceptance, Preference and Achievement

Laila El-Zeini, American University in Cairo

This paper uses data from the 2004 Stalled Fertility Transition survey, a follow-up to the 2003 Egypt Interim DHS, to investigate obstacles to achieving replacement fertility. The analysis adopts a framework with the acronym APA: Acceptance of a two-child ideal, Preference for that ideal, and Achievement of preference, positing a hierarchy among the three and hypothesizing that each depends on a set of factors, including gender stratification, economic expectations, perception of children’s costs and benefits, and the costs of fertility regulation. The results indicate that son preference, gender attitudes, and optimistic economic expectations are major obstacles to the acceptance of the two-child family. Given acceptance, son preference, perception of many benefits for children, and fear of contraceptive side effects are associated with low preference for two children. Given preference, women from better socioeconomic strata and women with weaker son preference are more likely to achieve the ideal of two children.

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Presented in Session 28: Intention and Behavior in Fertility and Reproductive Health