Family Formation in a Context of Forced Migration: Marriage and Fertility Among Syrian Refugees and the Host Population in Jordan

Caroline Krafft, St. Catherine University
Maia Sieverding, American University of Beirut

The marriage and fertility outcomes of forced migrants and their host populations during times of conflict have been understudied, despite the important implications for demographic trends and population wellbeing. We analyze marriage and fertility patterns among Syrian refugees in Jordan and those of the Jordanian host population. Our primary data source is the Jordan Labor Market Panel Survey (JLMPS) 2016, which is the second wave of a longitudinal survey initially fielded in 2010. The 2016 refresher sample oversampled areas that had high proportions of non-Jordanians. A supporting data source is the national Syrian Pan Arab Family Health Survey (PAPFAM 2009). We estimate discrete time multivariate hazard models for age at marriage and fertility outcomes, and analyze how the hazard of marriage or childbearing for Jordanians varies in response to the local intensity of the refugee influx. Our results indicate that Jordan’s fertility stall has ended, with TFR declining from 3.8 in 2010 to 3.3 in 2016 among Jordanians (from 3.9 to 3.4 nationally). Age at marriage has remained stable, and there is no evidence of an impact of the Syrian refugee influx on marriage or fertility outcomes among Jordanians. A key factor related to the resumed fertility decline appears to be women’s education. As compared to Jordanians, Syrian refugees experienced an earlier transition to marriage and a higher TFR of 4.4 in 2016. This is lower than the TFR of the refugee population prior to the conflict and their arrival in Jordan, which was 4.9 in 2009, but higher than the national TFR in Syria (3.5 in 2009). Similarly, while Syrian refugees in Jordan marry earlier than the overall Syrian population pre-conflict, marriage has been somewhat delayed or reduced. The marriage and fertility patterns of Syrian refugees in Jordan are consistent with this population being highly selected.

Presented in Session 31: Forced Migration: Family Transitions, Health and Vulnerability