Can Family Planning Programs Reduce High Desired Family Size in Africa?

January 30, 2012 • Family Planning, Africa, Daily Email Recap

Below is a recent paper by John Bongaarts, published in International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, Volume 37, Number 4, December 2011:

Can Family Planning Programs Reduce High Desired Family Size in Sub-Saharan Africa?

By John Bongaarts

During the past half century, fertility declines have been pervasive in Asia and Latin America. Between the early 1950s and the early 2000s, the total fertility rate (TFR)-the average number of live births a woman would have during her lifetime, assuming constant fertility rates-dropped from 5.7 to 2.4 births per woman in Asia and from 5.9 to 2.3 births per woman in Latin America.1 Only a handful of countries in these regions still have fertility rates higher than four births per woman. In Sub-Saharan Africa, however, fertility remains high in the large majority of countries.

Although some declines have occurred, the average total fertility rate in 2005-2010 exceeded 5.1 births per woman-more than double the levels observed in Asia and Latin America.

Several factors contribute to the high fertility rate in Sub-Saharan Africa. Compared with populations in Asia and Latin America, the continent’s people are on average poorer, less educated and have higher child mortality. These factors contribute to a desire for large families, which in turn leads to high fertility. In addition, with few exceptions, governments in Sub-Saharan Africa have made family planning programs a low priority.2,3 Continued high fertility, combined with lower-than-expected mortality from the AIDS epidemic, are producing very rapid population growth. By 2050, Sub-Saharan Africa will have a billion more inhabitants than in 2005, according to the United Nations’ medium projections.

To read the full article, please click here:

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