Fertility Decline in sub-Saharan Africa

Journal Article (Academic article)

Historically, fertility in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has been quite high, and in the past half century has declined far more slowly than in most other parts of the world (Locoh, 2002). Indeed, during the past three decades the world as a whole has witnessed a remarkable decline in the number of live births a woman who survives her fecund lifespan can expect to produce given prevailing age- specific birth rates. This total fertility rate (TFR) has declined from 4.8 in 1970 to only 2.8 in 1997 for the world as a whole (World Bank [1995] and [2000]; UN [2001]), an unprecedented decline. For sub-Saharan Africa during this period, the subcontinent-wide TFR declined from 6.6 to 5.3, with the entire decline occurring after 1980. This special issue is devoted to the topic of Africa’s nascent fertility decline. Is further decline likely? Is the decline widespread or concentrated in a few regions? Since the continent has suffered economic stagnation for the past quarter-century, and since in most of the world, fertility decline is associated with economic progress, what alternative explanations can be given for the fertility decline that has occurred? Of the proximate causes, which are most important, and are there underlying forces that can be associated with these declines?

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Becker, CM

Published Date

  • May 2002

Published In

  • Journal of African Policy Studies

Volume / Issue

  • 7 / 2-3

Start / End Page

  • 1 - 16