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Keywords:

  • Iran;
  • family planning;
  • health houses;
  • program evaluation;
  • difference-in-differences;
  • propensity score matching;
  • fertility

Abstract

During the first few years of the Islamic Revolution of 1979, and aided by pro-natal government policies, Iranian fertility was on the rise. In a reversal of its population policy, in 1989, the government launched an ambitious and innovative family planning program aimed at rural families. By 2005, the program had covered more than 90% of the rural population and the average number of births per rural woman had declined to replacement level from about 8 births in the mid 1980s. In this paper, we evaluate the impact of a particular feature of the program – health houses – on rural fertility, taking advantage of the variation in the timing of their construction across the country. We use three different methods to obtain a range of estimates for the impact of health houses on village-level fertility: difference-in-differences (DID), matching DID, and length of exposure. We find estimates of impact ranging from 4 to 20% of the decline in fertility during 1986–1996. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.