Stopping, spacing and postponing: evidence of a uniquely African pattern of fertility decline.

Tom A. Moultrie, University of Cape Town
Ian M. Timaeus, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM)

We have argued previously that the commonly-used dichotomy between stopping and spacing of childbearing is conceptually incomplete and may be misleading research on historical populations and those undergoing fertility transition. We have suggested that postponing (a propensity to delay the next birth that is independent of the age of the youngest child) is a third, distinct, childbearing strategy. Likewise, we have already documented the existence of a novel pattern of child bearing in several sub-Saharan African countries characterized by lengthening median birth intervals in which (as originally hypothesised by the Caldwells) the timing of childbearing is determined neither by women’s age nor their parity. Here we extend this work by marshalling the evidence from more than thirty Demographic and Health Surveys conducted across sub-Saharan Africa during the last twenty years. We demonstrate that a uniquely African pattern of childbearing, consistent with widespread postponing, holds generally across the region.

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Presented in Session 159: Fertility