Demographers use the term fertility to describe the pattern of childbearing in a population. In analyzing the fertility pattern of a given population, demographers examine the average number of children born, the timing of childbearing, and the circumstances of the mother at the time of birth such as her marital status. This entry presents theories of the influence of religions on childbearing and discusses religion and fertility both in history and in the contemporary world. It concludes with a section on the fertility of religious minorities.

It is not surprising that when demographers look to understand the factors that shape fertility rates in a society, they turn their attention to religion. Marriage and family life are objects of attention for most religions, and religious teachings ...

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