Monitoring the African Fertility Transition: How Tempo, Locus, Quantum and “Wantum” Are Shaping the Prospects for a Demographic Dividend

Habibou Ouedraogo, Institut Superieur des Sciences de la Population (ISSP)
Sarah Giroux, Cornell University

Fertility declines in sub-Saharan Africa are setting the stage for the possibility of significant demographic dividends. Using three decades of cross-sectional DHS files from 26 African countries, this study monitors the quantum, tempo, locus, and “wantum” of African fertility transitions. We argue that these four components are essential to understanding the future course and consequences of transitions. The quantum (pace, magnitude, and continuity of decline) affects the possibility of a clear time window of low age-dependency. The locus (distribution across socioeconomic group) shapes the extent to which fertility transitions shift the burden of reproduction to the poor. Changes in the tempo of births affect how births are increasingly concentrated among the older age groups, with implications for children’s household environments. The wantum speaks to the possibility of a regime of family by choice. We apply a decomposition analysis, making it possible to adjudicate between competing explanations of African fertility transitions.

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Presented in Session 1: Fertility Transition in Sub-Saharan Africa