War and the Changing Timing of Fertility in Iraq

Valeria Cetorelli, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

Iraq’s fertility transition is largely undocumented. This paper provides a detailed account of recent fertility trends in the country, with a particular focus on the changes resulting from the 2003-2011 war and the factors underlying them. The study is based on retrospective birth history data from the 2006 and 2011 Iraq Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys. Estimates from the two surveys indicate that total fertility remained stable from 1997 to 2010 at a rate of about 4.5 children per woman. However, an examination of the age patterns of fertility reveals an abrupt shift in the timing of births, with adolescent fertility rising by over 30% soon after the onset of the war. A decomposition analysis shows that the rise in early childbearing is due to an increased prevalence of early marriage among the less educated. These findings have serious implications for women’s health and empowerment in Iraq and similar war-affected settings.

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Presented in Session 144: Timing of Fertility