Rising Cohort Fertility in Africa : 1900-1950

Michel Garenne, Institut Pasteur

Trends in cohort fertility were reconstructed from census and survey data for some 30 African countries for women born prior to 1950. Results show major rises in more than half of the countries, and smaller increases in the other half. Fertility increases are correlated with a marked decline in infertility in many countries, and with a moderate increase in age at first marriage in some others. Reasons for the changes in these two proximate determinants of fertility level are explored. Infertility appears correlated with the control of trypanosomiasis in some of the countries of the “infertility belt”. In other countries it seems to be correlated with better standards of living. Dynamics of fertility level are discussed in light of other potential determinants, and of the colonial history of public health.

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Presented in Session 126: Progression of Fertility Transitions in Sub-Saharan Africa