What’s Hindering Fertility Decline in Pakistan?: Perceptions and Realities

Zeba A. Sathar, Population Council
Laura J. Reichenbach, Population Council
Arshad Mahmood, Population Council

Despite significant policy and programmatic attention, Pakistan continues to struggle to reduce its fertility rate. The latest DHS (2006-2007) data show TFR in Pakistan to be 4.1, only slightly lower than the TFR in 2001. Further, the contraceptive prevalence rate which was already much lower than most countries with equivalent levels of fertility, has actually fallen to 29 percent according to the latest DHS. What explains the sluggish decline in fertility in Pakistan? Explanations have included barriers due to religion, gender discrimination against women, low levels of social development, and lack of demand for family planning services. To what extent are these explanations based on perceptions about the religious and socio-cultural context of the country? And to what degree do these perceptions differ from the realities of fertility decline suggested by recent evidence?

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Presented in Session 152: Demography of Islamic Societies and Populations