Fertility Transition in the Sultanate of Oman
Anthropological Approaches to Demographic Dynamics
In the 1980s, the fertility rate in Oman was among the highest in the world. However, since the mid-1990s the Islamic nation has witnessed a dramatic and unique decline in its birth rates. Despite these rapid demographic transformations, we still know very little about the fertility transition in Oman and the neighboring Gulf states, as demographic investigations within the region remain sparse and anthropological studies concerning the topic virtually nonexistent. Against this background the project seeks to investigate the causes, consequences and cultural meanings of fertility decline in Oman on the local level. Our aim is to describe and explain, through an ethnographic re-study, the fertility change in al-Hamra, an oasis town in Northern Oman, from the 1980s until today. The project focuses on the desires, decisions and actions of married couples of different generations, concerning pregnancy, birth and family planning. How have reproductive decisions changed during the past thirty-five years, and what are the factors underlying these changes? We assume that new ideas about kinship and marriage play an important role. The project follows a holistic approach and considers socio-cultural and religious changes as well as demographic, economic and political transformations on the local and national level. Our approach builds on methodological and theoretical work within the interdisciplinary field of anthropological demography. Thus, our findings will be of interest for both anthropologists and demographers.
KEYWORDS: Anthropological Demography, Demographic Change, Fertility and Reproduction, Kinship, Sultanate of Oman, Arabian Gulf States, Islam