Innovation and Adaptation in Fertility Transition: Jewish Immigrants to Israel from Muslim North Africa and the Middle East

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Abstract

Transplanted to a radically different economic and cultural environment, Jewish immigrants to Israel from Muslim North Africa and the Middle East reduced their cohort fertility by approximately 33 per cent within 30 years, in the absence of any organized family planning programme, Following the framework specified by Carlsson (1969), we identify two fertility control strategies that contributed to their fertility decline: (1) innovation behaviour - adoption of the birth control pill, and (2) adaptive behaviour - increases in birth spacing at low parities. Military service was a vehicle of socialization for these new immigrants. We find important effects of female respondents' military service in explaining the adoption of innovative behaviour by this economically and culturally marginalized subpopulation. In contrast, military service is not important in explaining the spread of adaptive behaviour within this same subgroup. These findings thus suggest circumstances iu which cultural barriers to the adoption of new behaviour are important.

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