Background: In Iran, the total fertility rate is 1.8 and it is especially low in highly educated women. Also, there is a considerable difference between the ideal and realized fertility in this sub-population. Clear knowledge on the barriers to achieve the ideal family size is necessary to formulate policies. 
Objective: The study aimed at explaining the barriers of childbearing in this sub-population. 
Methods: This was a qualitative study using conventional content analysis. The study was conducted from April 2015 to January 2016 across the colleges of Kerman University of Medical Sciences in the southeast of Iran. The study population consisted of PhD students and faculty members who were studying and working in this university. We used semi-structured interviews to collect data. The sampling procedure was purposeful sampling and it continued until data saturation was achieved. Conventional content analysis was performed to analyze the gathered data. 
Results: Twenty two participants took part, all of whom were married and half of whom were women. Eight of the participants were faculty members and the rest were PhD students. Two categories were extracted, including lake of enabling environment and personal preferences as the main barriers to childbearing in the highly educated subpopulation. Each of the categories included corresponding secondary and primary categories. 
Conclusions: Different factors affect childbearing decision making in highly educated people. Taking into account these barriers is important at the time of formulating pro-natalist policies.


Keywords: Fertility, Iran, Qualitative study


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