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Disentangling the Roles of Modernization and Secularization on Fertility: The Case of Turkey

Dogan Hatun, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Second Demographic Transition (SDT) theory argues very low fertility results from the simultaneous processes of modernization and secularization. However, this theory has primarily only been examined in the Christian countries of Northern and Western Europe. The assumption that modernization and secularization are co-occurring processes may not apply in other non-European, non-Christian contexts. Notably absent are studies of Muslim-majority nations, where modernization has occurred separate from secularization because the primary interpretation of Islam views the pursuit of secular knowledge is as important as the pursuit of religious knowledge. Therefore, there is a critical need to examine the applicability of the SDT theory to fertility in a Muslim-majority country. Using data from the 2008 and 2013 Demographic and Health Surveys of Turkey, and a series of regression models, I examine the independent and joint effects of modernization and secularization on married women's parity, contraceptive use, and induced abortion receipt. Overall, I find mixed evidence concerning the effects of modernization and secularization on married women's fertility behaviors. Modernization and secularization are independently associated with married women's parity and abortion receipt. However, there modernization and secularization are jointly associated with married women's contraceptive use and methods. I conclude that the specification of the SDT theory, that modernization co-occurs with secularization to allow more contraceptive use and more abortion, does not follow—and therefore does not—explain low fertility in the Muslim-majority country of Turkey.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Hatun, Dogan, "Disentangling the Roles of Modernization and Secularization on Fertility: The Case of Turkey" (2018). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI10793106.