Volume 46 - Article 29 | Pages 849–864  

Fertility among better-off women in sub-Saharan Africa: Nearing late transition levels across the region

By Jamaica Corker, Clémentine Rossier, Lonkila Moussa Zan

Abstract

Background: While overall fertility across Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is still high, fertility rates have been declining among educated and wealthier women in many countries since the 1970s. It is not clear whether, five decades later, consistently lower fertility among better-off women represents a distinct fertility regime among this subpopulation.

Objective: To determine whether advantaged women (the best educated or wealthiest) in contemporary SSA have fertility characteristic of late (total fertility rate [TFR] 2.0–2.9) or mid-to-late (TFR 3.0–3.9) fertility transition levels.

Methods: We use data from the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) to calculate TFR for better-off women using six educational and wealth categories in 27 countries in SSA.

Results: Women with completed secondary education (11% of the full sample) across SSA have late (2.0–2.9) or mid-to-late (3.0–3.9) TFR in 25 out of 27 sample countries (with an average TFR of 3.2). While better-educated women in higher-fertility countries (TFR>5) have somewhat higher fertility than their counterparts in lower-fertility settings (TFR<5), there is convergence towards similarly low fertility among highly educated women within countries with TFR <5.

Conclusions: Better-educated women across SSA today have fertility rates nearing late transition levels. Their fertility is only partly associated with the overall country fertility.

Contribution: The finding that women in the upper social group in most countries in SSA are nearing the end of the fertility transition shows a more complex picture of fertility decline across the region than is commonly assumed. It shifts attention to understanding the intragroup differentials and diffusion processes that will impact the future path of fertility declines in the region.

Author's Affiliation

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

Understanding the long term effects of family policies on fertility: The diffusion of different family models in France and Germany
Volume 22 - Article 34

France: High and stable fertility
Volume 19 - Article 16

Attitudes towards abortion and contraception in rural and urban Burkina Faso
Volume 17 - Article 2

Most recent similar articles in Demographic Research

Measuring the educational gradient of period fertility in 28 European countries: A new approach based on parity-specific fertility estimates
Volume 49 - Article 34    | Keywords: education, Europe, period fertility, quantum, tempo, total fertility rate (TFR)

A Bayesian model for the reconstruction of education- and age-specific fertility rates: An application to African and Latin American countries
Volume 49 - Article 31    | Keywords: age, Bayesian analysis, education, fertility estimation, fertility rates

Ultra-Orthodox fertility and marriage in the United States: Evidence from the American Community Survey
Volume 49 - Article 29    | Keywords: age at first marriage, American Community Survey (ACS), fertility, Judaism, marriage, religion, total fertility rate (TFR), Ultra-Orthodox Judaism

Advanced or postponed motherhood? Migrants’ and natives’ gap between ideal and actual age at first birth in Spain
Volume 49 - Article 22    | Keywords: actual age at first birth, age at arrival, fertility, ideal age at first birth, international migration, motherhood, Spain

Describing the Dutch Social Networks and Fertility Study and how to process it
Volume 49 - Article 19    | Keywords: fertility, Netherlands, personal networks, social influence