Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Sociology and Anthropology


The major objective of this study is to test the applicability of demographic transition theory to developing countries in general and under various cultural conditions. A literature review identifies the theoretical and methodological limitations associated with demographic transition research;The basic tenets of the theory are spelled out in a causal model of human fertility and applied to 67 developing countries in three distinctive cultural settings: Catholic, Islamic, and Buddhist countries. Eleven concepts are hypothesized to be directly or indirectly related to human fertility: (1) availability of land, (2) industrialization, (3) economic development, (4) urbanization, (5) education, (6) children in the labor force, (7) use of mass communication, (8) health services, (9) nutrition-diet, (10) infant mortality, and (11) family planning programs. Time lag between the variables in the model is considered;Significant differences in the revised human fertility models are found. Fertility levels in diversified cultural clusters do not respond in the same way to the same aspects of socioeconomic development. Education is the sole determinant of fertility in Islamic countries while the use of mass communication, the proportion of children in the labor force, and land availability are the determinants of fertility in Catholic countries. A positive association, rather than causal link, is observed between infant mortality and fertility in both Islamic and Catholic countries. In Buddhist countries, no significant variables were found to determine 1975 fertility levels, but five years later, infant mortality became the only predictor of the 1980 fertility. Surprisingly, industrialization, availability of health services, nutrition-diet, and availability of family planning programs are not found to be directly or indirectly linked to fertility;The study shows that allowing for a time lag between the variables in the model is found to be methodologically sound. In addition, lumping developing countries together may produce a statistical impasse with erratic findings. Finally, theoretical, methodological, and policy implications are discussed.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Mahmoud Mesbah Abdel-Rahman



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235 pages