Islam and fertility at the end of the first demographic transition: the case of North Caucasus

Konstantin Kazenin, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration
Vladimir Kozlov, National Research University Higher School of Economics

The paper deals with fertility timing in muslim communities of North Caucasus, Russia. The first demographic transition was completed there in the 1990s and was almost immediately followed by a shift towards earlier timing of marriage and 1st birth. Such development, although not unattested in other parts of the world, is nevertheless quite unusual because most commonly the first demographic transition is accompanied by the opposite change of timing. Specifically, mean age at the start of child bearing is growing in most of muslim countries which are currently undergoing or have recently undergone the 1st demographic transition. Our goal is to find out determinants of the non-standard timing change. We concentrate on Daghestan, a republic with ca. 3 million population, predominantly muslim. The specificity of Daghestan is that it has preserved many characteristics of patriarchal family organization during the Soviet epoch, whereas Islamic observance there considerably weakened in the 20th century but undergoes vivid revival at present. At the level of different rural communities and at individual/familial level, Daghestan demonstrates many combinations of characteristics associated with religion (fasting, daily prayer, considering abortion as prohibited, etc.) and with traditional family settings (arranged marriages, gender contrasts in family roles, access to education, job, etc.). This allows to distinguish the impacts of the different determinants upon fertility timing. Our study is based on a survey now in progress (to be finished by March) of women of reproductive age in 10 villages. It turns out that earlier timing is associated with some parameters of religious observance rather than traditional family setting. Besides, marriage migration of women shifts timing to elder ages. The results will be compared with data on other countries where mean age at 1st childbearing decreased after the first demographic transition. Common reasons of this phenomenon are discussed.

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 Presented in Session P3. Poster Session 3