Anticipating the Future of African Fertility Transitions: A Decomposition of Youth Fertility Preferences in Sub-Saharan Africa

Benjamin Gandesbery, Cornell University
Sarah Giroux, Cornell University

We investigate the role of socioeconomic status in shaping youth fertility and fertility preferences. We begin by analyzing broad trends in inequality in youth fertility and Desired Family Size (DFS). We then utilize a mixture of regression and advanced decomposition methods to determine the extent to which changes in DFS are due to changes in SES distribution, changes at higher SES groups, or baseline changes that effect all wealth groups. We find that while inequality in youth fertility is growing at an alarming rate, inequality in youth preferences is flat. Decreasing youth preferences are predominantly driven by broad-based, presumably cultural changes that affect all SES groups evenly. Our findings suggest that a “three stages” model for fertility transitions is accurate in describing youth fertility outcomes, but not in describing fertility preferences. This implies that rising fertility differentials are due not to fertility preferences, but to unmet need.

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Presented in Session 61: Changing Fertility Intentions