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Fertility Changes in Sub-Saharan Africa

December 9, 2008 • Daily Email Recap

This report provides an overview of major fertility trends in sub-Saharan Africa in the second half of the 20th century. It also presents the proximate determinants (factors that have a direct mechanical effect on fertility levels) and the socioeconomic correlates of these trends. The dynamics of the fertility decline were different in urban and rural areas.

On average for the countries investigated, the trends in urban and rural areas started to split in approximately 1960. The date of onset of the fertility decline varied greatly by region and country, ranging from the early 1960s in the first urban areas to the late 1990s in the last rural areas. A few rural communities had not started the transition at the time covered by the last available survey. The speed of the fertility decline, approximately 1 child per decade, also varied markedly among countries, from 1.5 children per decade to less than 0.5 children per decade. In addition, a stall in fertility decline occurred in six of the countries investigated (Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar [urban areas], Nigeria, Rwanda-rural, Tanzania [rural areas]); in five of these countries, this stall occurred in 1995-2005. The pattern of the fertility decline in sub-Saharan Africa did not appear to be very different from that of many other countries in the world. However, the fertility decline in sub-Saharan Africa seems to have been somewhat more influenced by changing nuptiality patterns than elsewhere, and its relationship with socioeconomic correlates was somewhat less influenced by income levels and trends than other countries.

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