This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Reproductive "Tourism" to Iran

Iran's demographics are becoming increasingly "European"--higher than average life expectancy and below replacement level fertility. The drop in fertility is recent, so there is still a youth bulge, and the older population is still a small fraction of the population, but the trends are moving in the right direction. However, a new twist on reproductive issues in Iran was brought up this week on PRI's The World:
Iran is actually a leader in the field of fertility treatment — attracting couples looking for in vitro fertilization, or IVF, from all over the Middle East. And it's all due to support from the Ayatollahs. 
Demand for IVF is high in Iran, in part because more women are waiting to get married and have families until they're in their 30s and 40s, said Azadeh Moaveni, an Iranian-American who wrote abou this in "The Islamic Republic of Baby-Making" for Foreign Policy magazine.
The story is particularly interesting because Moaveni argues that the government had pushed for a high birth rate during Iran's several year war with Iraq. When that war ended, the Ayatollahs realized that the economy needed to be rebuilt and that large families weren't necessarily the best way to do that. So, the government encouraged a broad approach of encouraging small families while at the same time working to help infertile couples have children. The birth rate in fact dropped rapidly, causing some alarm to Iran's previous President, Ahmadinejad, who in 2010 proposed a set of prontalalist policies. It seems that not many Iranians took him up on those offers, but in vitro fertilization is at least consistent with pronatalism.

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