Over the past 25 years, fertility has declined rapidly in many developing countries. This trend is part of a process called the “demographic transition,” during which populations move from high fertility and high mortality rates to low fertility and low mortality rates. These changes are mainly driven by improvements in education, health, and income. However, since the beginning of the 21st century, we observe an unexplained stall in fertility declines in several African countries, despite improvements in health and increasing education and incomes. While the average decline of fertility in all developing countries was 0.09 births per year (and woman) in the 20th century, it has slowed down to a reduction of only 0.02 births per year in Africa since 2000.
There is a large literature on fertility transitions and their causes worldwide, yet there is only limited evidence on the causes of recent population dynamics, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. We hope to contribute to a better understanding of population dynamics in sub-Saharan African countries by comparing the roles of economic development, public policies, and women’s empowerment as drivers of fertility rates.