Fertility Plateau in Egypt, Jordan and Syria

Underlying Determinants and Policy Implications (Phase 1)

This activity is a collaborative research activity conducted by The American University in Cairo's Social Research Center in partnership with United Nations Population Fund/Arab States Regional Office (UNFPA/ASRO). The first phase involves Egypt, in which the UNFPA Cairo office was involved, while the second phase involves partnership with Jordan and Syria, in which the Jordan and Syria offices were involved.

  • The specific objectives of the project are to address the following questions:

    1. What are the features and explanatory determinants of fertility plateau in Egypt, Jordan and Syria? The issues being investigated cover the recent trends of fertility as well as the causes of the slow pace of decline. These causes are expected to include both service and socio-economic determinants.
    2. What are the geographic differences in the features and explanatory determinants? The concern here is on the weight of underlying causes identified for the country. In particular, it is expected that different regions in the country will be in different transition phases. Hence, different causes will be operating in different geographic areas.
    3. Are the current policies and programs adequately responsive to these challenges? In particular, the questions will be whether programs implemented adapt adequately to different contexts and to the type of causes identified in different geographic classifications.
    4. What is the international experience in addressing this plateau?
    5. What are the future policy recommendations for addressing the fertility plateau?

    Phase 1 focussed on Egypt and had three main productions, a background report  a final report on Egypt fertility plateau and all background materials for this final report that were presented in a conference that was held in the AUC in December 2011.

  • The background report was completed during the second half of 2010 (link to background report and policy report) to review the international and Egyptian experience. The report suggested a number of research topics to tackle fertility challenges in Egypt. These topics were transformed in to six quantitative studies and one qualitative study.

    •  Can work, education and female empowerment help to reach replacement level?
    •  Family formation and fertility desires and behavior among youth and their future implications
    •  Profile of women who desire two children and how to scale up their experience
    •  Why urban areas did not complete their transition to replacement levels and how to influence this transition?
    •  Actions to speed up fertility decline in rural areas and their potentials to avoid future stalling in fertility
    •  Analysis of structure and current fertility policies and recommendations for the future (pillars, institutional framework, new initiatives, proposed reforms)
    •  A qualitative study to assess the current attitudes and perceptions toward the two child norm in Egypt and the influence of religion

    These studies were completed during 2011 and were presented in the conference of December 2011. 

  • The final report, its executive summary and the policy report were done by Hoda Rashad (principal investigator of the activity) and Hassan Zaky (coordinator). These reports drew on a large number of background papers, presentations as well as expert comments and discussion.

  • The background papers and presentations of the conference were done by Ghada Barsoum, Somaya El-Saadani, Sahar El-Sheneity, Fatma El-Zanaty, Hanan Girgis, Ramadan Hamed, Zeinab Khadr, Hesham Makhlouf, Magued Osman, Hoda Rashad, Hussein Sayed and Hassan Zaky. The UNFPA experts who actively participated in the discussions and attended a series of meetings included Maha El-Adawy, Abdullah El-Zoubi, Magdy Khaled and Ziad Rifaii. Other members in SRC who contributed to this activity included Noha Elkhorazaty, Mohamed Salem and Zoya Sameen. Refer to full list of project team.