Toward replacement fertility in Egypt and Tunisia.
Egypt and Tunisia began their fertility transition at almost identical fertility levels and at roughly the same time period, yet the difference in the pace of decline has been such that the total fertility rate (TFR) in Tunisia reached replacement level by the year 2001, whereas the TFR in Egypt remains above three live births per woman. This article draws on the secondary literature and on several nationally representative surveys from the two countries between 1978 and 2005 to provide empirical evidence of the difference in the pace of fertility decline and to analyze the determinants of the differential. Findings include (a) variation across the two countries in the consistency of fertility decline among the segments of the population leading the transition; (b) that the success of each country’s family planning program was influenced by the role of political leaders and the extent of the program’s integration with socioeconomic development objectives; (c) that the impact of contraception on TFR decline became an important factor in the mid-1980s; and (d) that the greatest determinant of the discrepancy in the pace of fertility decline is the disparity in age at marriage, which rose more significantly in Tunisia than in Egypt. The latter finding indicates that reaching replacement fertility in Egypt hinges primarily on further declines in marital fertility, resulting from reduction of wanted fertility and from an expansion of family planning program coverage and improved efficiency of service delivery and use.