The influence of historical cultural identity in shaping contemporary reproductive behaviour in Mauritius

Sarah Hillcoat-Nalletamby, University of Waikato

Historical and contemporary research on European and developing country fertility decline has shown that culture has a powerful influence on reproductive behaviour. This paper examines whether cultural identity influences contemporary reproductive behaviour in Mauritius, a country whose population has been marked by the diaspora of African and Indian continents resulting from 18th and 19th century migrant labour movements. Today, a third of Mauritians are Christian, half of Hindu religion and about a fifth of Islamic faith, the latter two groups still recognising their forefathers’ language as Indian. We focus in particular on the relationship between cultural identity and the practice of non-supplied forms of birth control (including withdrawal), methods neglected by reproductive health analysts because of their association with ineffective fertility control, and hence overlooked as possible manifestations of cultural preference. Empirical analysis, using multivariate logistic regression, draws on data from the 1991 Mauritius Contraceptive Prevalence Survey, supplemented by qualitative data collected during the 1990s.

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Presented in Session 62: Cultural norms and demographic behaviour in developing countries (1)