Religion and Reproductive Behavior in Sub-Saharan Africa

Charles Westoff, Princeton University
Kristin Bietsch, Princeton University

With growing public interest in Muslim and Christian relations in sub-Saharan Africa, this paper explores differences in fertility across countries by religion in countries with a sizable population of Muslims and non-Muslims. Using Demographic and Health Survey data from 29 countries, we calculate various measures of fertility and family planning by country and religion, as well as analyze the association of religion with fertility, age at marriage, limiting desires, and contraceptive use, controlling for other socioeconomic variables. We begin our analysis by looking at the three largest religious groups in sub-Saharan Africa: Muslims, Catholics, and other Christians, and find that in most countries included, Catholic and other Christian women do not differ greatly in fertility related characteristics. However, Muslim women have higher fertility and fertility-related characteristics than non-Muslims in almost all countries.

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 Presented in Session P3. Fertility Intentions and Behaviors