Volume 37 - Article 40 | Pages 1327–1338  

On the pace of fertility decline in sub-Saharan Africa

By David Shapiro, Andrew Hinde

Abstract

Background: This descriptive finding examines the comparative pace of fertility decline in sub-Saharan Africa, relative to Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Northern Africa.

Objective: We seek to determine if fertility decline has been slower in sub-Saharan Africa than elsewhere in the developing world.

Methods: United Nations 2017 estimates of national fertility are used in assessing the comparative pace of fertility decline, and the four regions are compared in terms of how far they are into their fertility transition.

Results: The data shows clearly that fertility decline in sub-Saharan Africa, still at a comparatively early stage, has been considerably slower than the earlier declines in Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Northern Africa at comparable stages of the transition, and displays less within-region heterogeneity than the transitions in these other regions.

Conclusions: The slower pace of fertility decline in sub-Saharan Africa, in conjunction with the high current fertility levels in the region, means that in the absence of policies seeking to accelerate fertility decline, sub-Saharan Africa will continue to experience rapid population growth that in turn will constrain its development.

Contribution: Presentation of data in a novel way (Figures 2‒4, and associated calculations) unambiguously demonstrates the slow pace of fertility decline in sub-Saharan Africa compared with other regions of the world.

Author's Affiliation

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