Rethinking African Fertility: The State in (and of) the Future Sub-Saharan African Fertility Decline

Tom A. Moultrie, University of Cape Town
Ian M. Timaeus, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM)

Despite large differences in total fertility, there are strong similarities in the patterns of family building across sub-Saharan Africa. In this paper we argue that these patterns of family building and the persistence of high to medium-high fertility regimes across the region can be understood better if the institutional context in which African women’s childbearing occurs is brought back into focus. Historical institutions affecting attitudes towards childbearing, combined with contemporary social, political and economic uncertainty and institutional capriciousness, have inhibited the African fertility transition. Until these institutional dynamics and their path-dependence are engaged with, Africa’s fertility decline will remain slow.

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Presented in Session 96: Fertility Transitions in Sub-Saharan Africa I