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

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

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.

The marriage and fertilityoutcomes of forced migrants and their host populations during times of conflicthave been understudied, despite the important implications for both demographictrends and population wellbeing. In this paper, we analyze marriage andfertility patterns among Syrian refugees in Jordan and the Jordanian hostpopulation. There are an estimated 1.3 million Syrian refugees in Jordan, over80% of whom live outside camps. There has been wide public concern in Jordan overperceived high rates of early marriage and fertility among refugees, althoughTFR in Syria prior to the conflict was slightly lower than in Jordan, at 3.5(PAPFAM 2009). Jordan also experienced a lengthy period of fertility stallduring the early 2000s (Cetorelli and Leone 2012) and it is unclear how thearrival of the refugee population may have affected fertility trends in thehost country.

We address three researchquestions: (1) How have marriage and fertility outcomes changed for Jordaniansfrom 2010 - 2016? (2) What are the patterns of marriage and fertility among theSyrian refugee population in Jordan? and (3) Is there evidence of changes infertility behavior among Syrian refugees as compared to Syria before the war? Ourprimary data source is the Jordan Labor Market Panel Survey (JLMPS) 2016, whichis the second wave of a longitudinal survey initially fielded in 2010, beforeJordan began experiencing a substantial influx of refugees. The 2016 refreshersample oversampled areas that were identified as having high proportions ofnon-Jordanians, including Syrians. A supporting data source is the nationalSyrian Pan Arab Family Health Survey (PAPFAM 2009), which allows us to assessselection of Syrian refugees in Jordan as compared to the pre-war Syrianpopulation. We estimate discrete time (complementary log-log) multivariatehazard models for age at marriage and fertility outcomes, and analyze how the hazardof marriage or childbearing for Jordanians varies in response to the localintensity of the refugee influx, derived from locality-level data on 2015Census populations by nationality.

Data from the JLMPS indicatethat JordanÕs fertility stall has ended, with TFR declining from 3.8 in 2010 to3.3 in 2016 among Jordanians (from 3.9 to 3.4 nationally). Age at marriage hasremained stable for both men and women, so nuptiality cannot be the main driverof the recent fertility decline. There is also no evidence of an impact of theSyrian refugee influx on marriage or fertility outcomes among Jordanians. A keyfactor related to the resumed fertility decline appears to be womenÕseducation; an inverted U-shaped relationship between womenÕs education andfertility rates was seen during the stall, which in 2016 had returned to theexpected negative linear relationship. In the post-stall period, the fertilitydecline has been greatest among women with secondary and higher education.

Figure  SEQ Figure * ARABIC 1. Hazard ratios for education interactionswith time, multivariate model of fertility

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:Caroline:Dropbox:British Academy-JLMPS:Marriage and Fertility:Data and do files:Graphs and Tables:ed_coef.png

As compared to the Jordanianpopulation, Syrian refugees experienced an earlier transition to marriage and ahigher TFR of 4.4 in 2016. This is lower than the TFR of the refugee populationprior to the conflict and their arrival in Jordan, which was 4.9 in 2009. Similarly,while Syrian refugees in Jordan marry earlier than the overall Syrianpopulation pre-conflict, marriage has been somewhat delayed or reduced for theSyrian refugees in Jordan. For instance, among marriages to current Syrianrefugees in Jordan during the 2005-9 period (i.e. in Syria pre-conflict), 33%of brides were under age 18 compared to 28% of brides in marriages formed torefugees in 2012-16 after arrival to Jordan. Yet the percentage of marriages tothis population in which the bride was under age 20 was somewhat higher in the2012-16 period (62%) than pre-conflict (43%), suggesting some compression ofmarriage ages. The marriage and fertility patterns of Syrian refugees in Jordanare thus consistent with this population being highly selected on factorsassociated with earlier marriage ages and higher fertility rates in Syria.

Figure  SEQ Figure * ARABIC 2. Hazard ratios for single year model andgrouped years model of age at marriage, Syrians and Syrian refugees in Jordan,women

References

Cetorelli, Valeria, and Tiziana Leone. 2012.ÒIs Fertility Stalling in Jordan?Ó Demographic Research 26:293–318.

PAPFAM. 2009. ÒThe Family Health Survey inthe Syrian Arab Republic (2009) [Arabic].Ó Damascus: Syrian Arab Republic, PanArab Office Of The Prime Minister, Central Bureau Of Statistics.

Presented in Session 1079: International Migration and Migrant Populations