Sex Preferences, Family Planning, and Fertility: An Israeli Subpopulation in Transition

Barbara S. Okun*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Jewish immigrants who came to Israel from Muslim countries of North Africa and the Middle East were transplanted to a radically different, modern society. Their high fertility levels were put critically at odds with changed socioeconomic and mortality conditions. In their countries of origin, high fertility had been consistent with many socioeconomic, cultural, and religious goals, including the survival of male offspring. In Israel, an immediate conflict developed between the desire for male children and high fertility and economic conditions that necessitated a drastic decrease in family size. Previous research has shown that the conflict resulted in a rapid reduction in fertility levels across marriage cohorts of Jewish women of Asian and African origin. We show here that, at the same time, the conflict also led to rapid abandonment of fertility behavior related to the preference for sons. Thus, convergence of the fertility levels of Asian and African immigrants to the lower fertility levels of other Jewish women in Israel - a factor important in the assimilation process of African and Asian women - was accompanied by convergence in behavior related to sex preferences - a further indicator of absorption into modern Israeli society.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)469-475
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Marriage and Family
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1996


  • Family planning
  • Fertility
  • Fertility transition
  • Israel
  • Middle East
  • Sex preferences


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