Volume 37 - Article 21 | Pages 669–708  

Women’s education, infant and child mortality, and fertility decline in urban and rural sub-Saharan Africa

By David Shapiro, Michel Tenikue


Background: This paper provides estimates of the contributions of increased women’s education and reduced infant and child mortality to fertility declines in urban and rural areas of countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, using individual-level data.

Objective: The principal question that the paper addresses is: How much have increased women’s schooling and reduced mortality contributed to fertility declines in urban and rural places in each of 30 countries in sub-Saharan Africa? A secondary question is: What have been the changes in women’s schooling and mortality in urban and rural areas in these countries?

Methods: Data from the first and last Demographic and Health Surveys for each country is used, along with a decomposition technique that allows us to quantify how much of the observed fertility decline is attributable to increased education and how much is due to reduced mortality.

Results: In urban places, on average, increased women’s schooling accounts for 54% of observed fertility decline while reduced mortality contributes 30%. In rural areas with fertility decline, increased women’s education accounts for an average of 30% of the decline while reduced mortality accounts for an average of 35%. Results vary substantially by country and place of residence.

Conclusions: Accelerating increases in women’s schooling and decreases in infant and child mortality have the potential to accelerate fertility decline in sub-Saharan Africa.

Contribution: The paper uses individual-level data to provide quantitative estimates of the importance of increased women’s schooling and reduced mortality in contributing to fertility decline in sub-Saharan Africa.

Author's Affiliation

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

Mortality convergence of twins and singletons in sub-Saharan Africa
Volume 41 - Article 36

On the pace of fertility decline in sub-Saharan Africa
Volume 37 - Article 40

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