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Fertility stalls in sub-Saharan Africa: exploring the role of fertility changes in urban areas and capital cities

In sub-Saharan African countries, as in most developing countries, women living in cities have fewer children than women living in rural areas. Urban areas, and even more so large cities, are undeniably leaders in fertility transitions. However, are they the drivers? In other words, to what extent are country-wide fertility transitions driven by fertility transitions in urban areas?  

In this presentation, we use birth histories from about 200 surveys in 38 sub-Saharan African countries. These data are used to reconstruct fertility trends by place of residence (capital city, other urban areas, rural areas). We use a decomposition method, combining data on fertility trends and population change by place of residence, to assess the contribution of fertility transitions in urban areas and urbanisation to fertility change.  

The reconstruction of fertility trends by place of residence shows that many cities in Africa have experienced significant slowdowns, or even stalls, in fertility transitions over the past two decades. These slowdowns in fertility transitions in cities, combined with overall low and slow urbanisation, are leading to a decline in the weight of cities in the fertility transition at the national level. In some countries, slowdowns in urban areas have contributed to country-wide fertility stalls. Cities no longer seem to be the drivers - if they ever were - of the fertility transitions in Africa, and fertility declines in rural areas have an increasingly important weight in the transitions.  

In this webinar, we will also briefly discuss some of the factors behind the stalls in fertility transitions in cities. While migration to cities can influence the slowdowns, it does not seem to be the only or the main cause. A decrease in postpartum infertility, a slow increase in contraceptive use, and a demand for children that remains high in urban areas are among the demographic factors that account for these slowdowns. 

 

Speaker: Professor Bruno Schoumaker, Université Catholique De Louvain 

 

Please note that the time listed is Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) 

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