Christian-Muslim fertility differences in poor settings in Greater Beirut, Lebanon

Afamia Kaddour, Harvard University

In this paper, we examine differentials in fertility between Christians and Muslims in three poor communities in Greater Beirut, Lebanon using data from the 2002 – 2003 Urban Health Survey. Results from the adjusted parity progression ratios show that young Christian and Muslim women are significantly less likely to progress to the next parity than their older counterparts. However, fertility decline among Christians is much more significant. The onset of the decline in Muslim fertility -especially at parities three, four and five – seems to coincide with the end of the civil war in the early 1990’s, while that of Christians is at least 10 years earlier. The differences in marital fertility by religious affiliation persist after controlling for differences in socio-economic conditions, religiosity, and cultural capital. We discuss context-specific explanations of the religious fertility differences taking into account Lebanon’s social, economic, historic and political context.

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Presented in Session 3: Demographic and prospective transitions of the Arab world population