Women’s Agency and Fertility in the Middle East and North Africa

Content and Goals

In recent years, a few countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have experienced an unusual fertility increase. Although there is little empirical evidence in the MENA region, women’s agency (the ability to define goals and act on them) is considered as a strategy to lower fertility.

This project aims to provide a comprehensive quantitative assessment of the association between women’s agency and fertility in the MENA region. Empirical evidence on this association is very rare and limited to Egypt (Samari 2017a, b). We study both causal directions between agency and fertility in several MENA countries: Specifically, we ask how women’s agency affects number of children or timing of first birth and how number of children or first birth affect women’s agency.