Age at First Birth and Fertility: Global Variation in Proximate Causes

Kermyt G. Anderson , University of Oklahoma
Leah Tanner, Johns Hopkins University

In recent decades, total fertility rate (TFR) has decreased dramatically around the world. This paper tests two predictions: whether 1) age at first birth (AFB) is negatively associated with fertility, and 2) contraceptive usage is positively associated with AFB and negatively associated with fertility. Cross-sectional data for 157 countries from 2001 through 2014 come from the UN World Fertility Data file and the UN World Contraceptive Use file. Multilevel mixed-effects generalized linear models adjust for hierarchical grouping of nations at the level of the region and subregion and control for logged income. We find that AFB has a weak relationship with fertility, and is predictive of TFR only in Africa. AFB is also unrelated to contraceptive usage. Contraceptive usage, especially modern contraceptive usage, predicts reduced fertility is most global regions, with the notable exception of Europe. Implications for how low global TFR is maintained independent of AFB are discussed.

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