Ideal Number of Children in Sub-Saharan Africa: Trends and Decomposition of Changes.

David Shapiro , Pennsylvania State University
Michel Tenikue, Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (LISER)
Andrew Hinde, University of Southampton

This paper examines data from sub-Saharan Africa on the ideal number of children, an important indicator of the demand for children, highly correlated with fertility. We use Demographic and Health Survey data from 31 countries, each of which has had at least two surveys, and examine trends and determinants in the mean ideal number of children, before discussing consequences. We use a procedure to adjust for the downward bias in this measure due to nonnumeric responses. We carry out decompositions for each country that estimate the importance of increased education and changes in residence in contributing to observed changes in the mean ideal number of children. Finally, we explore the consequences of levels and changes in the ideal number of children. We show the strong correlations between this variable and fertility, and explore the implications of increasing women’s education and increasing urbanization for ideal number of children and fertility.

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 Presented in Session 1. Fertility, Family Planning, Sexual Behavior, & Reproductive Health 1