Fertility decline among the Karen and the Hmong, hill tribe minorities in northern Thailand

Rossarin Gray, Mahidol University
Chai Podhisita, Mahidol University
Patama Vapattanawong, Mahidol University
Anchalee Varangrat, Mahidol University

This paper examines key socioeconomic and cultural changes over the past ten years of the Karen and the Hmong, hill tribe minorities in Northern Thailand, and how those changes relate to their fertility behaviour. Data from the Population and Housing Censuses carried out in 1990 and 2000 are used. Our analysis shows that fertility of the two ethic groups much lag behind the Northern Thai. Karen fertility declines, however, much faster than the Hmong whose fertility has just begun to fall. This decline of both ethnic groups appears to be closely linked to the Thai nation building policy on establishing schools in the hill tribe area. The shift from agricultural to non-agricultural occupations of women also contributes to their fertility reduction. The slow fertility decline among the Hmong is rather due to their norm on large family size than level of socioeconomic development.

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Presented in Session 109: Demography of indigenous peoples