Family Planning and Rural Fertility Decline in Iran: A Study in Program Evaluation

Djavad Salehi-Isfahani, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
M. Jalal Abassi-Sahvazi, University of Tehran
Meimanat Dr Hosseini Chavoshi, University of Tehran

During the first decade of the Islamic Revolution, Iranian fertility was on the rise, in part because of the revolutionary regime's pro-natal policies. In a 1989 policy reversal, the government launched an ambitious and innovative family planning program aimed at rural families, which by 2005, had brought the average number of births per rural woman down to about two from eight in the mid 1980s. In this paper we evaluate the impact of this program on fertility in a quasi-experimental setting. We use the timing of establishment of rural health houses and village-level measures of fertility to identify program impact. Our results indicate only a moderate effect of the program on rural fertility. Villages that received health services earlier had only a slightly greater decline in fertility compared to those who received it later. Our regression results indicate that initial literacy and availability of schools played a larger role in fertility decline than family planning.

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Presented in Session 187: The Role of Family Planning Programs in the Continuing Fertility Decline in Asia