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The complex factors involved in family fertility decisions

May 6, 2016 • Daily Email Recap

The complex factors involved in family fertility decisions

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Preference for large families continues to be a major factor determining levels of fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa. Recent data from DHS demonstrate reasons why men and women prefer and choose to have large families. Though factors influencing women’s decisions are complex and vary from one society to another, there are also similarities.

Culture, religious beliefs, gender relations and low child survival rates – all play a critical role in very personal decisions about reproduction and hence overall fertility levels and trends. It is not always about ‘supply side’ factors or economic barriers- that is availability of family planning services – the number of children women have is a very personal decision.

Various factors determine the number of children families have including: i) Desire for large families – own desires, family desires, social norms (including old age security); ii) Prevalent child mortality – replacement and hoarding/insurance; iii) Knowledge – knowledge on the reasons to use family planning, available options, side effects and mitigation measures, available services and locations, and costs; and (iv) Access to quality family planning services.

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