Fertility Transition in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Role of Modernization and Family Planning
William Muhwava1, Martin E. Palamuleni2
1Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies, Mtubatuba, South Africa; 2Population Research and Training Unit, North West University, Mmabatho, North West, South Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa was the last continent to experience fertility transition. Even when the transition occurred, some regions lagged behind. Fertility has declined in this continent despite its lagging in development and high levels of poverty. Thus, the fertility transition experienced in Sub-Saharan Africa is different from that which occurred in other regions in terms of the quantum and tempo of fertility change. In this paper, data from censuses and surveys are combined so that determinants of fertility decline are examined. South Africa has been identified as the pioneer in the continent, having started in the 1960s, almost a decade ahead of the other countries in Southern Africa. In this category, Mauritius can be included which started in the 1950s. In the second group, there are countries like Zimbabwe, Kenya, Botswana and Ghana. In the third category, there are Cameroon, and Nigeria which are at early stages of the transition. Lastly, there are countries like Chad, Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali, which are in the pre-transitional stages. In the paper, we identify the driving forces behind these declines in Sub-Saharan Africa which are later marriage and the greater use of modern contraception. A unique characteristic of African transitions appears to be the extent to which contraceptives are being used to space rather than to limit births. Evidence shows that only South Africa has reached the end of the fertility transition, as it has recorded near replacement level fertility. All the other countries are still at the early or incipient or advanced stages of the fertility transition. There is rudimentary evidence that fertility transition could have stalled in some of these population, so the addition of the data from the 2011 censuses in this paper will help to disentangle this issue.

Keywords: Fertility transition; Sub-Saharan Africa; Modernization; Family planning

Biography: Dr Martin Enock Palamuleni is a Senior Lecturer in Demography at North West University, Mafikeng Campus, in South Africa. He has previously taught at University of Malawi and has worked for the National Family Planning Council of Malawi. He is interested in Fertility Transition in Sub Saharan Africa and has conducted research in population analysis using data from Malawi and South Africa.