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Citation Information

Type Journal Article - Journal of Population Research
Title Below-replacement fertility of ethnic Indians in Fiji: A decomposition analysis of the components of changes in the total fertility rate
Volume 31
Issue 4
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2014
Page numbers 269-286
URL http://iussp.org/sites/default/files/event_call_for_papers/IUSSP-Full paper.pdf
The growth rate of a population is determined by the interplay of fertility, mortality and international migration. Fertility rates are directly related to the population growth and the age structure of the population. Understanding fertility is necessary for assessing opportunities for boosting economic development as well as for anticipating future challenges, such as population ageing. Policy-makers and planners depend on fertility rate statistics for effective social planning and allocation of resources to public services, including education and healthcare. A civil registration system is the most efficient data source for the generation of fertility statistics; however, as Fiji has not achieved full recording of births, the census provides a unique opportunity to examine the
fertility levels and trends of the entire population. Additionally, the demographic and household characteristics recorded in the census provide an excellent basis for studying fertility levels and trends against different background characteristics, such as ethnicity, urban-rural residence and educational attainment.

Fiji has a long history of census taking dating back to 1879, the year of the first census which was rather a rough head count. Two years later, the first comprehensive census was conducted. Since 1881, censuses in Fiji have been conducted on a decennial basis with very few exceptions. The latest census, henceforth referred to as the “2007 census”, was conducted in September 2007 and enumerated 837,271 people residing in Fiji on the census night. According to this census, 56.8 percent of the population of Fiji are of indigenous Melanesian origin, henceforth referred to as “Fijians”, 37.5 percent are of Indian origin, henceforth referred to as “Indians”, and 5.7 percent are of other ethnic origin, primarily European, Chinese or other Pacific Islands.

The 2007 census also revealed that the process of urbanization is advancing in Fiji. The urban population has surpassed the rural population: some 51 percent of the population live in urban areas. This trend differs across ethnicity with nearly 57 percent of the Indian population living in urban areas, as compared to approximately 45 percent of the Fijian population. The population of Fiji grew at a slow rate between 1901 and 1936 with a rate of growth hovering between 1.0 and 1.6 percent per annum. The intercensal growth rate increased between 1936 and 1946 to 2.7 percent per year and then further accelerated to 2.9 percent per year by 1956 and 3.3 percent by 1966. Over the following decades, Fiji witnessed a slowdown in its population growth. The 1966-1976 intercensal population growth rate plummeted to 2.1 percent per year, and remained at that level until 1986. Between 1986-1996 another drastic reduction in the population growth rate occurred as the rate fell below 1 percent per year. The 2007 census showed that this decline has continued in recent years: between 1996 and 2007 the intercensal growth rate was on average just 0.7 percent per year. A noticeable disparity in the population growth rate is observed between Fijians and Indians. During 1996-2007, the Indian population decreased by 0.7 percent per year while the Fijian population increased by 1.8 percent per year.

This paper focuses solely on the issue of fertility. A continuous decline in fertility can play a major role in the reduction of population growth and also affects changes in the age structure of the population. The shift from high birth rates to lower birth rates is in line with the “demographic transition model” which predicts that as a country develops from a pre-industrial to an industrialized economic system both birth and death rates will decline (Thompson, 2003). Demographic analyses of previous censuses have been carried out by Zwart (1979), Gubhaju and Navunisaravi (1989) and Seniloli (2002), using the 1976, 1986 and 1996 censuses, respectively.

The present paper examines the level, trends and differentials in fertility based on the 2007 census of Fiji and disseminates findings, which allow planners and policy-makers timely information for formulating policies and implementing programmes for the socioeconomic development of the nation at large and the well-being of the people.

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