The aim of this article is to examine the changing fertility trends among the Israeli Arab population, since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 until the present, within the context of the overall changing fertility patterns among middle eastern Arab societies during the second half of the twentieth century. The main conclusion of the article is twofold. First, the fertility rates among Israeli muslims have been stagnating since the mid-1980s, following an initial decline in the 1970s and the early 1980s-a decade-and-a half before the decline in most other Arab middle eastern societies. This is in sharp contrast to both the Israeli druze and Christian populations, as well as almost all of the other Middle eastern muslim societies, in which the fertility level has been steadily declining over the past 15 years. Thus, by the end of the twentieth century, the Israeli muslim population's fertility rates were among the highest in the entire Middle East. The second conclusion is that the unique demographic pattern among the Israeli Muslims during the past two decades has resulted, first and foremost, from the unique Israeli pronatalist policy that provides substantial children's allowances and other economic benefits only from the fifth child and above. It is also attributable to the failure of the Israeli authorities to promote the socioeconomic conditions of the Muslims. For them, in sharp contrast to the Christians and the druzes, the children's allowances and the other financial benefits given to large families have constituted an incentive for increasing their fertility and, in many cases, the best and most available option for family income.
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© 2003 Frank Cass & Co. Ltd.
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