Fertility Transition and Stalling in the Face of Socioeconomic Progress and HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa

Open Access
Varner, Catherine Elaine
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • David Shapiro, Thesis Supervisor
  • Bee Yan Roberts, Honors Advisor
  • fertility
  • sub-Saharan Africa
  • demographic transition
  • development
Fertility transition, a phenomenon of lowering fertility rates after significant socioeconomic progress, is of great concern to sub-Saharan Africa as a means of curbing dramatic increases in population in the region. Many sub-Saharan African countries are experiencing fertility stalling, however, meaning the total fertility rate (TFR) in these countries is failing to decrease and may be increasing once again. This paper addresses the stalling exclusive to sub-Saharan Africa and attempts to find key socioeconomic, economic, and cultural explanations that may lead to solutions for reinitiating fertility decline in sub-Saharan Africa. Past literature has motivated three approaches to research in this field. First, the paper will examine fertility transition and stalling based on socioeconomic development indicators using data from the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS). Through the use of multivariate regression analyses at the national, urban/rural, and regional levels, this section will determine socioeconomic factors that influence changes in fertility decline between consecutive DHS surveys in order to better understand how to reinitiate fertility decline in stalling areas. The second approach will address a specific issue to sub-Saharan Africa that may explain its unique fertility trends—the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Although the exact impact of HIV/AIDS on fertility and fertility decisions is yet unknown in the current literature, this section uses a multivariate regression analysis to link adult HIV prevalence to changes in fertility. The third approach will use a recent 2008 Ghana DHS survey to conduct a case study of fertility at the individual level in this country. Ghana used to be experiencing stalling fertility, but as of the 2008 DHS survey, fertility decline has resumed in this region. This section will explore women’s age, education level, ethnicity, and type of residence to find possible influences on the number of children ever born per woman.