Yearning for a bigger population: The relevance of minority status for fertility preference in the Oromo, Ethiopia

D. Susie Lee, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR)
Jonah Benjamini, Haverford College
Young Su Park, Haverford College

Protracted conflicts of ethnic or religious nature affect fertility patterns, but less is known how members of the affected groups themselves relate the experience of conflict with fertility preference and family planning. In this mixed-methods study, we first show pronatalism as a main theme emerging from the ethnographic fieldwork conducted with a historically marginalized ethnic group in Ethiopia, the Oromo, who grounded pronatalist value on the ethnic discrimination they experienced as political minority. The pronatalism manifested through healthcare worker’s reluctance to promote family planning, and in particular, through men’s preference for large family size. In the latter, the pronatalism was expressed as the combined political and religious (Islamic) resistance, and was indicative of potential conflicts with the preference of women. Second, we follow up with quantitative analysis using the Ethiopia Demographic Health Survey (2000, 2005, 2011, and 2016), and show that Oromo men indeed preferred larger family size. In Muslim couples, the degree of sex difference increased from almost zero in 2000 to more than 1 in 2016. There was a 6-7% increase in the probability of unintended pregnancies with 1 more child preferred by husband than wife.

Keywords: Family planning and contraception, Politics and demography, Culture, ethnicity, race, religion and language, Mixed methods research

See extended abstract.

  Presented in Session 154. Influence of Ethnicity and Minority status on Contraception Use