Fertility Transition: Is Sub-Saharan Africa Different?

John Bongaarts, Population Council
John B. Casterline, Ohio State University

Our aim is to consider whether African fertility declines to date resemble or differ from declines in other regions in their essential demographic features. In particular, we compare African patterns with patterns in other regions (Asia, Latin America) to assess the validity of the arguments for what might be termed “African exceptionalism” that have been made by Caldwell and others. The analysis relies on demographic survey data (WFS, DHS). We find that African transitions are indeed different because 1) the pace of decline in Africa during the past decade is substantially slower than the pace of decline in Asia and Latin America during the 1970s, 2) birth intervals are longer in Africa, 3) ideal family size is higher in Africa. However, Caldwell’s hypothesis that African declines will be more uniform among age groups than declines in other regions is not confirmed.

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Presented in Session 95: Fertility Transitions across Space and Time