How Is Fertility Behavior in Africa Different?
Claus C. Portner
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Claus C. Portner: Seattle University
No jf9um, SocArXiv from Center for Open Science
Sub-Saharan Africa’s fertility decline has progressed much slower than elsewhere. However, there is still substantial disagreement about why, partly because four leading potential causes—cultural norms, expected offspring mortality, land access, and school quality—are challenging to measure. I use large-scale woman-level data to infer what role each explanation plays in fertility differences between Sub-Saharan Africa and East Asia, South Asia, and Latin America, based on estimations of fertility outcomes by region, cohort, area of residence, and grade level. I show that the differences in fertility between Sub-Saharan Africa and the other regions first increase and then decrease with years of education. For women without education, fertility rates in Sub-Saharan Africa are comparable to those in Latin America. Similarly, for women with secondary education or higher, fertility rates in Sub-Saharan Africa align with those in South and East Asia. There are substantial and statistically significant differences for women with some primary education for all three comparison regions. The differences are more pronounced for children ever born than for surviving children. Overall, the results suggest that offspring mortality and the lower quality of primary schooling are the dominant reasons why fertility decline in Sub-Saharan Africa lags behind other regions.
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