Fertility decline in Turkey from the 1980s onwards: patterns by main language groups

Yavuz, S.
417 pages. Ankara, Hacettepe University Institute of Population Studies (2008)


Turkey entered into the last phase of its demographic transition since the 1980s, with a wide regional disparity ranging from east to west. The purpose of this thesis is to examine recent fertility decline and differentials by main language groups in Turkey from a birth order perspective. The study aims to identify different groups in the fertility decline process: the pioneers and the laggards. The empirical part of the study is based on recent approaches and methods of causal analysis and has exploited information provided by the latest ‘Turkey Demographic and Health Survey-2003 (TDHS-2003)’. The analysis has shown that the propensity for first time motherhood has been declining since the 1980s. However, the duration between first marriage and first birth did not notably change. The period effects in the quantum and tempo of fertility are clearly visible at the second and higher birth orders. There has already been a substantial decline in the transition to third and fourth births and the postponement has begun to emerge in the transition from first to second birth as well. Parity progression intensities of Turkish speaking mothers are lower than Kurdish speaking mothers which implies that the fertility decline started much later for the latter group. The study points out important distinctions according to different groups of women in the contemporary fertility decline. Highly educated Turkish speaking women appear to be pioneers of very low fertility behavior, whereas Kurdish speaking women who don’t know Turkish constitutes the laggards in the fertility transition. A combination of individual socioeconomic and socio-cultural factors is necessary but not sufficient to explain the fertility decline process and differential fertility behavior between the two mother tongue groups in Turkey. The study suggests that the fertility transition in Turkey can be attributed to both structural changes in society and a diffusion process of modern parity-specific fertility limitation, via the Turkish language.
Keywords: Turkey
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