Situations of fertility stall in sub-Saharan Africa

Michel Garenne


A comparative study of fertility trends since 1950 in 30 countries from sub-Saharan Africa revealed several cases of “fertility stall”, that is a change from downward fertility trends to flat- or even slightly rising- trends for some time, usually a few years: Ghana (1998-2003), Kenya (1995-2003), Madagascar in urban areas (1987-1993), Nigeria (1999-2003), Rwanda in rural areas (1999-2005), Tanzania in rural areas (1995-2004). In a first part, the paper presents the statistical evidence of changes in fertility trends. In a second part, the analysis focuses on possible causes of these changes. Fertility stalls were often associated with changes in two proximate determinants (contraceptive use and age at marriage) and in two socio-economic correlates (income and labour force participation). The paper concludes to a variety of situations leading to different causality in the various countries, including one case (Ghana) for which no reasonable explanation could be found from the available data.


Fertility transition; Fertility stall; Contraception; Labour force participation; Sub-Saharan Africa

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ISSN 2308-7854 (online); ISSN 0850-5780 (print)

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