Fertility Transitions in sub-saharan Africa: Trends in Declining Fertility

Open Access
Patchen, Rachel A
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • David Shapiro, Thesis Supervisor
  • Russell Paul Chuderewicz, Honors Advisor
  • Economics
  • Fertility
  • Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Demographic Transition
Every developed country has gone through a demographic transition, where both mortality and fertility decline as societies modernize and develop industries. In addition, much of Asia and Latin America have experienced both mortality and fertility transitions. Sub-Saharan Africa, however, is in the beginning stages of the fertility transition. Using data from the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), this paper will examine how and where fertility has changed in recent years in sub-Saharan Africa, including changes in national total fertility rates, fertility rates in rural versus urban areas, and differences between capital cities compared to other urban areas and rural areas. It will also consider changes in age-specific fertility rates in the four major regions of sub-Saharan Africa. This paper confirms the findings of Shapiro and Tambashe (2002) that Africa is going through a three-stage fertility transition process, where fertility rates first fall quickly in urban areas, then fertility falls in both rural and urban areas, but faster in urban areas, and lastly when overall fertility levels are relatively low, rural fertility rates declines more quickly than urban fertility rates.