Fertility of the Elite in Sub-Saharan Africa: Is Low Fertility Among the Better-off a Phenomenon Throughout the Region?

Jamaica Corker , Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Moussa Zan, University of Geneva
Clementine Rossier, Université de Genève

Low fertility has been well documented among wealthier and more educated women in more economically developed sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries. Economic theory and historic literature predict that upper class individuals want smaller families regardless of the normative or contraceptive context. Here we ask: do “elite” women in SSA really have similarly low fertility outcomes, regardless of the national fertility and family planning contexts? Or is low fertility found only among elite women in wealthier countries with lower overall fertility? Using DHS data from 27 SSA countries since 2010, we find that TFR is substantially lower among elite than non-elite women throughout the region. Multilevel analysis shows national contextual characteristics are only weakly related to fertility for elite women, in contrast to non-elite women. These findings indicate that the profile of elite women across SSA results in similarly low fertility, regardless of national contexts.

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 Presented in Session 8. Fertility in Developing Countries