Recent changes in family structure and fertility in Jordan
This study seeks to make a contribution to the field of population studies by throwing some light on the explanation of fertility change in developing countries. It hopes to do this by investigating the role of the family and its structure in explaining fertility attitudes and behaviour in Jordan. Some of the causes - at the level of intermediate variables - of regional variations in fertility levels and fertility preferences in Jordan are examined. The study tries to analyse several aspects of change in the family system in Jordan: social, economic kin-relationships and wealth flow directions within the family. Also, fertility attitudes are examined in relation to contrasting social contexts. It is assumed that fertility decline will be the result of certain changes in the family's internal and external social and economic structure. In order to test this assumption it is necessary to examine the nature of internal and external family relationships in terms of the following five dimensions: a) the scale and character of mutual economic obligations (or feelings of financial responsibility) which exist within the families under study b) the nature of the family budget (to what extent it is a common budget or one divided into separate units related to individual wage earners) c) relations between the father and his children in terms of obedience and societal and family norms (even when the family is geographically separated as a result of migration) d) the coherence and structure of the family system (is it a closed or open nuclear family or does it still have elements of the extended family?), and women's roles and status within the family e) wealth flow direction and its relation to power structure within the family. Results suggest that changes in the family's internal and external social and economic structure have a significant influence on fertility attitudes which, in turn, tell that fertility decline is an outcome of family change.