The project had the following objectives.
Objective 1. Provide an Accurate, Detailed and Comparative Picture of Fertility Levels, Trends and Differentials of National Populations in the GCC countries Using Data of Censuses and Vital Records
1.1. Analyse Levels, Trends, and Determinants of Fertility of Each GCC Country
Although fertility decline is a widespread phenomenon, largely discussed in media and public arenas, it remains undocumented in Qatar and the other GCC states. The knowledge of fertility levels, trends and determinants amongst Qatari and other GCC nationals is insufficient due to the lack of data and the lack of research, therefore little explanatory analysis and empirical evidence is available on this crucial phenomenon with profound implications for society and nation building. This study will produce and disseminate updated statistics on fertility trends, levels and determinants and provide sound explanations of them.
This project is particularly interested in evaluating the roles played by the proximate determinants of fertility, e.g., marriage, contraception, and postpartum infecundability, and the remote determinants, i.e., the socio-economic factors (e.g., women’s education, employment etc.) in recent changes in fertility in the region. We are also interested in understanding the role played by high immigration of foreign nationals in the fertility of nationals, both through the presence of domestic workers in the household and their support to rearing children, and through the perception of national identity being strengthened by high fertility. Fertility began to decline in the region since mid-70s, therefore the proponents will compare data before and after the fertility decline started to further increase the understanding of the phenomenon.
1.2. Yield Accurate Data on the Fertility of Nationals
Available data mainly reports overall fertility levels and trends disregarding nationality. Since a substantial portion of the population in all GCC countries are non-nationals, little is known about the fertility of the nationals from reports using pooled data. This study will analyse fertility data separately for nationals and will thus extend the understanding of fertility of Qatari and other GCC nationals. Using existing raw material of national censuses and available vital records (yet not processed) would constitute a major advancement in producing reliable and accurate data on fertility amongst the Gulf nationals in a context of high dependency of foreign labour, filling thus significant statistical gaps.
Objective 2. Examine the Role of Behaviours and Practices in Shaping Fertility and Family-building Patterns and Assess the Effect of Domestic and Other Foreign Workers Using Household Surveys
2.1. Examine People’s Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practice Regarding Fertility and Family Building
Reproductive values, family decision-making, conjugal negotiation and family planning will represent key topics in outlining the changing family patterns in the GCC societies. Information on these aspects will be obtained by conducting surveys which will be based on and complement the demographic data already available and analysed as part of Objective 1. This combined and integrated analysis will constitute a unique and substantive research into recent fertility practices in the Gulf.
2.2. Assess the Effect of Domestic and Other Foreign Workers on the Fertility of National Populations
The proposed behavioural survey of nationals will include a number of key questions in relation to “domestic and other foreign workers”. Usually, questions related to the support system of family are not introduced in fertility surveys or DHS modules. The survey in this project will therefore introduce a new dimension in order to understand the role of “domestic workers” in family‟s decisions to have and rear children. In addition, the survey will incorporate relevant questions on the “vision of nationals regarding the presence of foreign workers in their country”. Both new modules will highlight the influence of foreign workers on fertility and family building. Evaluating the role of “domestic workers” and foreign presence on fertility variations are crucial for implementing sound public policies.
2.3. Present a Comparative Study of Fertility-Related Behaviours in all GCC Countries
GCC countries are different in a number of ways from other Arab countries and share similar characteristics amongst themselves in many ways: they are all oil-rich, ruled by monarchy, heavily depend on guest workers, share similar traditional culture and values, and have similar attitudes towards gender roles. Yet current fertility level varies within the GCC countries and fertility decline begins at different time periods in different GCC countries. Comparative studies of fertility-related behaviours and relevant government policies in all GCC countries will extend our understanding of the factors associated with fertility decline, documenting the diversity of fertility practices from a national and regional perspective.
Objective 3. Assess the Impact of Government Policies that Directly and Indirectly Affect Fertility Behaviours and Family Building
3.1. Combining the Census and Survey Analyses Outcomes
Combine the results of the analyses of the census data, vital statistics and surveys in order to assess the impact of the various factors on fertility behaviour and family building, including government policies.
Some GCC countries (e.g., Qatar, Kuwait and the UAE) encourage its nationals to have more children, while the others (e.g. Bahrain and Oman) insist on the importance of birth control. Despite pro-natalist policies, fertility rates have declined in the last few decades amongst national populations of all GCC countries. On the other side, in all countries including those with pro-active programmes of family planning, desired fertility is still high and cultural values still encourage large families. Critical reviews of the current population policies and its effectiveness will help the policy makers to evaluate their policies and provide efficient measures for reaching women and family preferences. The objective is to make sure family patterns address national goals.
3.2. Recommend Efficient Public Policies
Information on current fertility and the powerful impact of some variables on fertility (such as education and women’s activity) is essential in developing sound policies and programs that could make an optimal use of human capital, notably regarding expenditure on women’s education and employment opportunities. Depending on variables that significantly impact fertility, national or regional policies could therefore be
implemented to alleviate the fertility variations (more subsidies, additional cost for household, etc.). The findings of this project will have important implications for social resource allocation and will help to understand how incentive-based policies could reconcile full employment of women with family building, rendering family organization compatible with the evolution of the labour market and the declared policies of nationalisation of the workforce.
Objective 4. Contribute to Advancing GCC Knowledge and Practices Objective
4.1. Produce Routinely Statistics
The project aims at raising awareness of the importance of filling in statistical gaps and developing the capacity to producing routinely statistics to monitor fertility of both nationals and foreign populations, and to provide governments and researchers with vital information about the fertility behaviour of the population and about the effects of the selected demographic and socioeconomic variables.
4.2. Contribute to the Building of Knowledge and Skills
While the project focuses on research and not on training, through the active engagement with data producers of how to improve data collection and data analyses as well as research, the project de facto will contribute to the building of knowledge and skills among governmental data producers. Furthermore, since the research project will assess policies affecting fertility, it will provide policy makers with important tools to deal with fertility and family issues, linking knowledge to policies. Finally, the project will analyse the use of data and research results of those institutions which have a mandate to alleviate family concerns in GCC countries and target them with results of this project.
4.3. Contribute to the Development of GCC Family Studies and Demographic Studies Academic Communities
The project will also contribute to the building of the family and the demographic studies academic community in the GCC countries. This will be done engaging directly and indirectly (through the products of the project, including data, papers and manuals) with GCC nationals and other experts based in the GCC, focusing on the research methodologies for the collection, processing and analysis of data on fertility and its determinants.