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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The fertility behaviour of Muslims of Sri Lanka Hasbullah, Shahul Hameed


Although fertility rate is comparatively higher among Muslims than other religious groups in Sri Lanka, the reason for this high fertility rate has, not been fully investigated. This study attempts to determine what factors influence Muslim fertility using individual household data. The data are derived from a systematic interview of 323 household heads in eleven Muslim settlements in Sri Lanka in 1981. Using crosstabulation and path analysis, the study found that socio-economic and demographic factors such as female level of schooling, female age at marriage, socio-economic status, and child mortality are closely associated with the fertility variation of the surveyed population. A woman with little education is more likely to marry early, is engaged in household activities, and may lose many children, all of which results in high fertility. The path analysis further suggests that low female schooling directly and indirectly through age at marriage "causes" high fertility of the surveyed population. The female level of schooling is found to be low among Muslims; therefore fertility is comparatively higher. However, the younger women have shown comparatively lower fertility due to recent educational changes. The low aspiration level for education among this group is mainly due to the bitter experience of the colonial education system which lasted until 1948 and the comparative lack of educational opportunities in the present. Increasing female education and the improving socio-economic status of the female population may reduce the present high fertility level of this community in the future.

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