Manama: Women in Qatar are delaying getting married and having fewer children, as education and career now play a bigger role in their everyday lives.

The recently published Millennium Development Goals in Qatar 2010 (MDG Qatar 2010) report shows that the fertility rate of Qatari women has decreased from 5.7 children per woman in 1999, to 3.8 children in 2009. In 2004, the total fertility was 4.2.

Total fertility rate states the total number of children an average woman would most likely bear during her lifetime if she were to have children throughout her reproductive years.

According to a previous study, the average general fertility rate in 2005 was 87.90 per 1000, but decreased to 77.98 in 2008. The general fertility rate is the number of live births per 1,000 women of childbearing age.

Qatar is not seeking to reduce its population growth due to the already small size of its population.

For Qataris, the average fertility rate was 111 in 2008, compared with 66.59 among non-Qataris. In 2004 the rate was 122.50 for Qataris and 71.60 among non-Qataris, Qatari daily The Peninsula said.

MDG Qatar 2010 attributes the fertility decline to changes in Qatari social attitudes, particularly in delaying female marriages to a later age. This is mainly to enable women to concentrate on education and allow them to have a career. It can be seen in the fact that the average child-bearing age for a woman in Qatar has increased from 29.70 to 30.20, in four years. Adolescent birth rates amongst Qatari women have also fallen due to an increased proportion of women being enrolled in education.

The birth rate among Qatari women in the age group 15-19 reached 43 per 1,000 in 1986, but declined to 21 in 1997, 13 in 2004 and 12 in 2009.

The entry of women into the labour force in large numbers was also a crucial factor in reducing adolescent birth rate, according to MDG Qatar 2010.

According to the report, maternal health has increased, with 30 per cent of the doctors in the healthcare sector now dedicated to maternity care. This has enabled the country to achieve a 100 per cent follow-up rate by skilled healthcare professionals, after a woman gives birth.