Birth Control Use Prior to First Conception in the Islamic Republic of Iran

Mohammad J. Abbasi-Shavazi , University of Tehran
Meimanat Hosseini Chavoshi, Australian National University
S. Philip Morgan, Duke University

Using data from the 2002 Iran Fertility Transition Survey collected in four Iranian provinces, the authors explore changes in elapsed time between marriage and first conception. Across marriage cohorts, a u-shaped pattern is observed. This pattern can be explained by: i) a monotonic decline in conception interval length possibly associated with a shift from arranged to romantic marriages overlaid by ii) a sharp increase in birth control use among those married after 1990. The authors focus on the post 1990 increase in contraceptive use and develop two possible explanations. The first posits that birth control use before the first conception reflects a new marriage form, the conjugal marriage that places a heightened value on the spousal relationship while de-emphasizing the centrality of parenthood. The competing explanation stresses the power of Iranian political/religious actors to encourage early marriage while allowing women access to higher education and birth control.

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Presented in Session 138: Timing of Childbearing: Economic and Cultural Contexts