Have Fertility Stalls among the Most Educated Women Contributed to Non-Declining Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa?

David A. Sánchez Páez , Université Catholique de Louvain
Bruno D. Schoumaker, Universite catholique de Louvain (UCL)

Increased access to and improved quality of education is identified as one of the factors leading to the reduction of fertility levels; however, declines in fertility in sub-Saharan Africa has not followed increases in education. Halts and reversals in fertility decline have been found in many sub-Saharan African countries. Evidence suggests that disruptions in the progress of education might account for recent fertility stalls in several SSA countries. Our objective is to unravel the relationship between education and stalled fertility by analyzing the contribution of changes in female fertility by educational level to positive or non-declining changes in total fertility rates. Using the Demographic and Health Surveys, we first estimate fertility rates by educational level and examine how they have varied over time, especially during periods of stagnation. Then, we use a decomposition method to analyze changes in fertility rates. We discern the extent to which fertility stalls are related to reversals and halts in the fertility decline of more educated women, or whether there is fertility plateauing at all educational levels, or whether it is due to an effect of changes in the composition of the population. Our results suggest that halts and reversals in fertility decline among women with secondary and higher education account for stagnant fertility in countries with strong evidence of fertility stalls. Although we also find fertility plateaus among women with lower levels of education, these higher and non-declining fertility rates would not explain much of the stagnation in fertility at the national level.

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 Presented in Session 44. Low and Middle Income Countries' Fertility Dynamics