Education stalls and subsequent stalls in African fertility: A descriptive overview

Anne Goujon, Wolfgang Lutz, Samir KC

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Background: Recent stalls in fertility decline have been observed in a few countries in sub-Saharan Africa, and so far no plausible common reason has been identified in the literature. This paper develops the hypothesis that these fertility stalls could be associated with stalls in the progress of education among the women of the relevant cohorts, possibly resulting partly from the Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) of the 1980s.
Methods: We descriptively link the change in the education composition of successive cohorts of young women in sub-Saharan Africa and the recent fertility stalls. We use reconstructed data on population by age, gender, and level of education from www.wittgenstein centre.org/dataexplorer, and fertility rates from the United Nations.
Results: In most sub-Saharan African countries, we observe that the same countries that had fertility stalls had a stall in the progress of education, particularly for young women who were of primary school age during the 1980s, when most of the countries were under structural adjustment. Conversely, stalls in fertility are less common in countries that did not have an education stall, possibly in relation to SAPs.
Conclusions: The results point to the possibility of a link between the recent fertility stalls and discontinuities in the improvement of the education of the relevant cohorts, which in turn could be related to the SAPs in the 1980s. This descriptive finding now needs to be corroborated through more detailed cohort-specific fertility analysis. If the education-fertility link can be further established, it will have important implications for the projections of population growth in affected countries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1281-1296
JournalDemographic Research
Volume33
Issue number47
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 16 Dec 2015

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