Marriage and Fertility under Military Occupation: A Study of the West Bank of Palestine

Main Article Content

Yara Jarallah
Dennis Hogan


We investigate effects of the Israeli Occupation of the West Bank on rate of marriage and fertility in Palestine using three alternate theories: (1) higher fertility is a political response to existential threat associated with expansion of settler communities (minority status hypothesis), (2) larger numbers of checkpoints in a place isolate it from neighboring places, and narrows accessible marriage market possibly increasing age at marriage (marriage market hypothesis) and (3) for families under stress, responses to both checkpoints and larger settlement populations will be to ‘double down’ on family - an earlier age at marriage and higher fertility within marriage despite fracturing of the marriage market (family security hypothesis). We use data from Palestinian Censuses of 1997 and 2007 and divide the 11 West Bank governorates into 31 distinct geographic areas, distinguishing urban, rural, and refugee camps. We test the hypotheses for women age 10 to 49 years in 2007, controlling for place of residence characteristics in 1997, community marriage and fertility rates in 1997, and change in community level of development from 1997 to 2007. Military checkpoints and settler population penetration in each governorate measure the intensity of the Israeli Occupation. We find evidence consistent with family security hypothesis.


Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

How to Cite
Jarallah, Y., & Hogan, D. (2019). Marriage and Fertility under Military Occupation: A Study of the West Bank of Palestine. Journal of Population and Social Studies [JPSS], 27(1), 87 - 105. Retrieved from
Author Biography

Yara Jarallah, University of Melbourne, Australia

Corresponding author


• Abdul Rahim, H., Wick, L., Halileh, S., Hassan-Bitar, S., Chekir, H., Watt, G., & Khawaja, M. (2009). Health in the Occupied Palestinian Territory 2: Health status and health services in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Lancet, March, 28-38.
• Abu-Rmeileh, N., & Hogan, D. (2012). The transition to adulthood among Palestinian youth in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Unpublished working paper.
• Agadjanian, V., & Prata, N. (2002). War, peace, and fertility in Angola. Demography, 39 (2), 215-231.
• Assaf, S., & Khawaja, M. (2009). Consanguinity trends and correlates in the Palestinian Territories. Journal of Biosocial Science, 41, 107-124.
• Barber, B. K. (2013). Annual research review: The experience of youth with political conflict – challenging notions of resilience and encouraging research refinement. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 54(4), 461-473.
• Batniji, R., Rabaia, Y., Nguyen-Gillham, V., Giacaman, R., Sarraj, E., Leena Punamaki, R., … & Boyce, W. (2009). Health in the Occupied Palestinian Territory 4: Health as human security in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Lancet, March, 48-58.
• B’Tselem. (2011). Statistics on settlements and settler population. Retrieved from
• Accessed 30 March 2014.
• Cetorelli, V. (2014). The effect on fertility of the 2003-2011 war in Iraq. Population and Development Review, 40(4), 581-604.
• Courbage, Y. (2005). Demography in Palestine on the eve of the 21st century. Paper presented at the Center for Research on Population and Health Seminar Series, American University of Beirut, Lebanon. Feb 24. Unpublished manuscript.
• Courbage, Y. (2012). Demographic trends and challenges in case of statehood in Palestine, 2012-2048. Paper presented at Ibrahim Abu-Lughodr Institute of International Studies Working Paper Series, Birzeit University, West Bank. Unpublished manuscript
• Eberstadt, N. (1994). Demographic shocks after communism: Eastern Germany, 1989-93. Population and Development Review, 20, 137-152.
• Eloundou-Enyegue, P.M., Strokes, S.C., & Cornwell, G.T.. (2000). Are there crises-led fertility declines? Evidence from Central Cameroon. Population Research and Policy Review, 19, 47-72.
• Giacaman, R., Khatib, R., Shabaneh, L., Ramlawi, A., Sabri, B., Sabatinelli, G., … & Laurance, T. (2009). Health in the Occupied Palestinian Territory 1: Health status and health services in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Lancet, March, 15-27.
• Goldschneider, C., & Uhlenberg P. (1969). Minority group status and fertility. American Journal of Sociology, 44, 361-372.
• Hamayel, L., Hammoudeh, D., & Welchman, L. (2017). Reproductive health and rights in East Jerusalem: The effects of militarization and biopolitics on the experiences of pregnancy and birth of Palestinians living in the Kufr ‘Aqab neighbourhood. Reproductive Health Matters, 25(sup1), 87-95.
• Hammoudeh, W., & Hogan, D. (2013). Decomposing the Palestinian ‘demographic puzzle’: An exploration of the proximate determinants of fertility in the West Bank and Gaza. [MA thesis]. Rhode Island: Brown University, Sociology Department.
• Harker, C. (2012). Precariousness, precarity, and family: Notes from Palestine. Environment & Planning, 44, 849-865.
• Heuveline, P. (1998). Between one and three million: Towards the demographic reconstruction of a decade of Cambodian history (1970-79). Population Studies, 52, 49-65.
• Heuveline, P., & Poch, B. (2006). Do marriages forget their past? Marital stability in post-Khmer rouge Cambodia. Demography, 43, 99-125.
• Heuveline, P., & Poch, B. (2007). The phoenix population: Demographic crisis and rebound in Cambodia. Demography, 44, 405-426.
• Johnson, P., Abu Nahle, L., & Moors, A. (2009). Weddings and War: Marriage arrangements and celebrations in two Palestinian intifadas. Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, 5(3), 11-35.
• Johnson, P. (2006). Living together in a nation in fragments: Dynamics of kin, place, and nation. In Taraki, L (Ed.), Living Palestine: family survival, resistance, and mobility under occupation (pp. 185-230). Syracuse University Press.
• Khawaja, M. (2000). The recent rise in Palestinian fertility: Permanent or transient? Population Studies, 54(3), 331-346.
• Khawaja, M. (2003). The fertility of Palestinian women in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan and Lebanon. Population, 53(3), 273-302.
• Khawaja, M., & Randall, S. (2006). Intifada, Palestinian fertility and women’s education. Genus, LXII (1), 21-51.
• Khawaja, M., Assaf, S., & Jarallah, Y. (2009). The transition to lower fertility in the West Bank and Gaza Strip: Evidence from recent surveys. Journal of Population Research, 26(2), 153-174.
• Kiros, G-E., & Hogan, D. (2000). The impact of famine, war, and environmental degradation on infant and early child mortality in Africa: The case of Tigray, Ethiopia. Genus, LVI (3-4) (2000), 145-178.
• Lichter, D., LeClere, F., & McLaughlin, D. (1991). Local markets and the marital behavior of black and white women. American Journal of Sociology, 96(4), 843-867.
• Lindstrom, D., & Berhanu, B. (1999). The impact of war, famine, and economic decline on marital fertility in Ethiopia. Demography, 36(2), 247-261.
• Locoh, T. (1994). Will the decline in fertility in Sub Saharan Africa last? A time of uncertainty’. In T. Locoh and V.H.Liefe. Liege (Ed.), Onset of fertility transition in Sub-Saharan Africa (pp. 105-33). France: International Union for the Scientific Study of Population.
• Nahmias, P., & Stecklov, G. (2007). The dynamics of fertility amongst Palestinians in Israel from 1980 to 2000. European Journal of Population, 23, 71-99.
• Obermeyer, C.M. (1992). Islam, women and politics: The demography of Arab countries. Population and Development Review, 18(1), 33-66.
• Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics 2018. Population, Housing and Establishments Census, 2017: Preliminary Results. Ramallah, Palestine.
• Population Reference Bureau 2018. 2018 World Population Data Sheet.
• Randall, S. (2001). Fertility, in J. Pederson, S. Randall, M. Khawaja (Ed.), Growing Fast: The Palestinian Population in the West Bank and Gaza Strip (pp. 95-120). Oslo, Fafo.
• Randall, S. (2005). The demographic consequences of conflict, exile and repatriation: A case study of Malian Tuareg. European Journal of Population, 21, 291-320.
• Rashad, H., Osman, M., & Roudi-Fahimi, F. (2005). Marriage in the Arab world Washington, DC: Population Reference Bureau.
• Saxena, P., Kulczycki, A., & Jurdi, R. (2004). Nuptiality transition and marriage squeeze in Lebanon: Consequences of sixteen years of civil war. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 35(2), 241-258.
• Spellings, C. R., Barber, B. K., & Olsen, J. A. (2012). Political activism of Palestinian youth: Exploring individual, parental, and ecological factors. Journal of Marriage and Family, 74, 1084-1100.
• Tabutin, D., & Schoumaker, B. (2005). The demography of the Arab world and the Middle East from the 1950s to the 2000s. Population, 60, 505-615.
• United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. (2013). Closure Maps. Retrieved on March 30, 2014 from