Diffusion Test of Fertility Decline in Arab Countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region

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Chaimae Drioui
Bouchra El Bidaoui
Fatima Bakass


After a long period of resistance and indications reflecting a natural regime, with variable starting points and rhythms, fertility has finally transited in all Arab countries of the MENA region. This paper aims to analyze this fertility decline to identify precursors and laggards in the shift to conscious birth control and test whether this widespread and rapid decline results from a process of spatiotemporal diffusion. The data used are the United Nations estimates back to 1950. Two approaches are used for dating fertility decline: Schmertmann et al. (2010) is based on the total fertility rate, and Coale and Treadway’s (1986) method is based on Coale’s Ig marital fertility index. The Knox statistic was used for the diffusion theory test. According to the two methods, the clustering of countries does not show significant differences other than a few exceptions. However, the diffusion theory test yields different results for the two approaches used. For the first method, the test is significant at the 6% level, which indicates that birth control has occurred through a contagion process among countries. However, this diffusion process was not established using the second approach, which may result from social and intentional diffusion instead. The proximate and contextual characteristics analysis in the pioneer countries around the start-up shows that the settings were favorable. The new fertility behaviors emerged first from the elites and the cities.


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Chaimae Drioui, National Institute of Statistics and Applied Economics, GEAS3D Laboratory, Morocco

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