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Marriage and fertility patterns among Jordanians and Syrian refugees in Jordan

Maia Maia (), Nasma Berri and Sawsan Abdulrahim
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Maia Maia: American University of Beirut

No 1187, Working Papers from Economic Research Forum

Abstract: In this paper we use the Jordan Labor Market Panel Surveys (JLMPS) of 2010 and 2016 to examine recent change in marriage and fertility outcomes among Jordanians, as well as among the Syrian refugee population in Jordan. The new data from the JLMPS 2016 demonstrates considerable continuity in marriage practices among Jordanians. Jordanian men and women have seen very modest increases in median age at first marriage of one or two years over recent cohorts. Education is the main factor associated with later ages at marriage and, correspondingly for women, later ages at first birth. The cost of marriage in real terms has declined since 2010, so marriage costs are unlikely to be a major contributor to recent trends in the age at marriage. Despite the relatively small increase in age at first marriage, the JLMPS 2016 data suggest a resumed fertility decline in Jordan after a long period of stall, with a total fertility rate of 3.3 births per woman in 2016 compared to 3.9 in 2010. As compared to the Jordanian population, Syrian refugees generally experienced an earlier transition to marriage and a higher total fertility rate of 4.4 in 2016. This is lower than the fertility rate of the refugee population prior to the conflict and their arrival in Jordan, which was 4.9 births per woman as of 2009. The marriage and fertility patterns of Syrian refugees in Jordan are consistent with this population being highly selected on factors associated with earlier marriage ages and higher fertility rates in Syria. Syrian refugees in Jordan were more disadvantaged in their marriage outcomes, including lower expenditures on marriage and lower rates of nuclear family residence. Women who married before age 18, both Syrian and Jordanian, also experienced poorer outcomes upon marriage than those who married at older ages, including larger age and education gaps with their husbands.

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Date: 2018-05-03, Revised 2018-05-03
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