Fertility Transition in Sub-Saharan Africa: Falling and Stalling

  • David Shapiro The Pennsylvania State University, USA
  • Tesfayi Gebreselassie Macro International Inc., USA
Keywords: Fertility, Stalling, Education, Infant/child mortality


This paper uses data from the Demographic and Health Surveys to examine the current status of fertility transition in sub-Saharan Africa, including the extent to which fertility decline has stalled. Among the two dozen countries covered by multiple surveys, 22 have initiated fertility transition, and a third of these countries have experienced stalling of fertility decline. We study the links between changes in contraceptive use, fertility preferences, and socioeconomic development (as reflected in changes in women's education, infant and child mortality, and real per-capita economic growth) and fertility decline and stalling. Changes in the measures of socioeconomic development are all related to the likelihood of stalling. We also analyze determinants of age-specific fertility rates in urban and rural places, and assess future prospects for fertility decline in the region. Progress in increasing women's educational attainment and in reducing infant and child mortality are identified as key factors contributing to sustained fertility decline.