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Population study on Lebanon: Increase in the divorce rate and modest growth in women’s economic participation since 1970


An Nahar published last Sunday the results of a population study undertaken by the Center for Development Studies and Projects (MADMA) based on official statistics, international data and various local surveys such as for instance the survey study on immigration carried out by the Saint Joseph University in 2010.  This population study explores the current demographic situation in Lebanon in relation to families, immigration, education, employment, health and social participation with a focus on youth and women between 15 to 29 years of age.

The study points out to the fact that fertility rate in Lebanon is now very low. In other words, women do not bear more than two children to replace her and her partner.  As a result, the natural population growth in Lebanon is likely to become negative in the future.  The study notes that this is mostly due to the increasing age of marriage which has now reached an average of 29 years for women and 32 years for men.  The study also indicates that the divorce rate has doubled since 1970 and has a higher impact on women than on men.  The number of women divorcees is four times that of men particularly since divorcee men tend to remarry.

The study notes that the illiteracy rate for those over 45 years of age reaches 25% divided into 44% among women and 15% among men. However, girls’ school enrolment tends to be higher than boys in middle, secondary and university levels.  With regards to employment, the study indicated that youth population (between 15 & 29 years old) accounts for 41% of the labor force , however, the participation of young women in economic activity has only increased by 20% from 1970 to 2004 and 15% between 1996 and 2004 despite the increasing enrolment of girls in education. During that period women’s share from senior posts has grown by 57% and by 100% for the expert category.  

The study indicates that all pregnant women covered by the study consult anti-natal care and all have deliveries under doctor’s supervision and in hospital.  However, post natal care remains relatively low but is steadily increasing.  In addition, most young women are aware of the mode of transmission of HIV AIDS and of the fact that practicing safe sex is the best precaution against the disease (despite some regional differences).

Source: Al-Nahar 19 May 2013

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