Fertility Transitions

One of the most significant developments in population policy in the wake of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) was the increase in the number of governments in Africa that reported to have policies to reduce fertility. The number of African governments with policies aiming at lowering fertility increased from 25% in 1976 to 68% by 1996 and further to 83% by 2016. According to conventional theories, fertility rates are negatively associated with structural factors including economic growth, urbanization, rising female education, falling child mortality rates, and preference for smaller families. Proximate determinants of fertility include age at first union, use of reliable methods of modern contraception, and access to safe abortion services. Despite economic progress and falling child mortality rates, Africa’s fertility is declining more slowly compared to the experience of the rest of the world regions at the same level of economic development and child mortality rates. Explanations for this puzzle are needed. Furthermore, we know little about fertility decisions within households and how these are influenced by household economics. This sub-theme aims to discuss why fertility transition in Africa differs from what was observed in other regions.

Specifically, sessions are invited that address the following sub-themes:

a) Influence of government policies on the fertility transition
b) Fertility patterns that deviate from conventional theories
c) Gender theories of fertility
d) Economic theories of fertility at a micro-level, for example, marginal utility of children.

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