Fertility Decline in Bedouin Society in the Negev, Israel, in the Early 21st Century

Naser Abusrihan, Jon Anson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


At the end of the 20th century, the recorded total fertility of the Bedouin in Israel was over 10 children per woman, one of the highest levels ever recorded in human history. In the first decade of the present century, fertility declined by almost 50% and has since stabilized. This article examines how fertility decline is related to other social changes: the rise in living standards, in education and paid work, especially for women; the move to urban dwelling, beside the continuation of life in the unrecognized villages; the permeation of new aspirations and lifestyles, but also the reality of living on the margins of Israeli society and the ongoing confrontations with the institutions of the Jewish State. The analysis is based on a representative sample of 491 married women aged 18 to 52 from the towns and unrecognized villages in the Negev, drawn from a socio-economic survey of the Arab population in Israel conducted by the Galilee Society in 2007. Controlling for age, the main effects on fertility were of post-secondary education, a non-traditional lifestyle, and confrontations with the State (negative) and standards of living (positive). These effects have brought about a change in the age at marriage and at first birth, which are he proximate, but not the only, determinants of the number of children born.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-34
Number of pages34
JournalPopulation Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Bedouin
  • Fertility
  • Israel

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography


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