Muslim and Non-Muslim Differences in Female Autonomy and Fertility: Evidence from Four Asian Countries
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AbstractOn the basis of research on paired Muslim and non-Muslim communities selected in India, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines, the authors test the hypothesis that greater observed Muslim pronatalism can be explained by less power or lower autonomy among Muslim women. Indeed, wives in the Muslim communities, compared to the non-Muslim ones: 1) had more children, 2) were more likely to desire additional children, and 3) if they desired no more children, were less likely to be using contraception. However, the authors do not find that Muslim communities consistently score lower on dimensions of women's power/autonomy. Thus, aggregate-level comparisons provide little evidence of a relationship between lower autonomy and higher fertility. Individual-level multivariate analysis of married women in these paired settings similarly suggests that women's autonomy differentials do not account for the higher fertility, demand for more children, and less use of contraception among Muslim wives. These results suggest that explanations for Muslim/non-Muslim fertility differences lie elsewhere. Copyright 2002 by The Population Council, Inc..