Disentangling the Roles of Modernization and Secularization on Fertility: The Case of Turkey

Dogan Hatun, David F. Warner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Second demographic transition (SDT) theory argues very low fertility results from the simultaneous processes of modernization and secularization. However, this theory has primarily been examined in the Christian countries of Northern and Western Europe. The assumption that modernization and secularization are co-occurring processes may not apply in other non-European, non-Christian contexts. Notably absent are studies of Muslim-majority nations, where modernization has occurred separate from secularization because the primary interpretation of Islam views the pursuit of secular knowledge as important as the pursuit of religious knowledge. Therefore, there is a critical need to examine the applicability of SDT theory to fertility in a Muslim-majority country. Using data from the 2008 and 2013 Demographic and Health Surveys of Turkey (sample size 13,575), and a series of Poisson regression models, we examine the independent and joint effects of modernization and secularization on married women’s parity. Overall, we find that modernization and secularization are independently associated with married women’s parity. We conclude that the specification of the SDT theory that modernization co-occurs with secularization to limit fertility does not follow—and therefore does not—explain low fertility in the Muslim-majority country of Turkey.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1161-1189
Number of pages29
JournalPopulation Research and Policy Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2022


  • Demographic transition
  • Fertility
  • Modernization
  • Secularization
  • Turkey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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