Fertility Levels, Trends and Differentials in Kenya: How Does the Own-children Method Add to Our Knowledge of the Transition?

  • Collins O Opiyo University of Pennsylvania
  • Michael J Levin Harvard University
Keywords: Fertility, Own-children method, Demographic transition


The own-children method of fertility estimation tracks temporal changes in fertility patterns. We revisit the Kenyan fertility transition by applying the method to 1979, 1989 and 1999 censuses, and 1989, 1993, 1998 and 2003 Demographic and Health Surveys data. The method's ability to provide yearly fertility rates for periods preceding each data source adds enormous knowledge to fertility patterns. For Kenya, these trends go back through the 1960s. First, the method sheds additional light on the onset of the transition. Second, the trends highlight major differences in the onset and pace of fertility decline among regions and key sub-groups. Third, the rates for overlapping periods provide both internal and external validity checks that heighten confidence in the overall results. Last, it provides a rare opportunity to evaluate birth history fertility rates. Taken together, these estimates provide more detail than ever before regarding fertility patterns in Kenya.

Author Biographies

Collins O Opiyo, University of Pennsylvania
Population Studies Center
Michael J Levin, Harvard University
Center for Population and Development Studies