The Fertility Transition in Sub-Saharan Africa: Early Transition Rise and (Slow) Decline

José Antonio Ortega, United Nations

Fertility in most of Sub-Saharan Africa has remained very high since fertility estimation started in the 1960s. This article documents the current stage in the fertility transition at the country level for all Sub-Saharan countries making use of all the available national data on children ever born and total fertility. It is possible to document for almost every country that fertility increased in the early stages of the transition to reach a maximum level, and that fertility has started to decline from that maximum level. These qualitative features hide large quantitative differences both in the maximum level reached and in the present stage of the transition. There are many countries where fertility is still high and the pace of decline is slow. In some countries where fertility had started to decline there might be stalls in the transition although the available data is often contradictory regarding recent trends.

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Presented in Session 154: Cross-National Patterns of Fertility