Ethnicity and Fertility Change in West Africa: An Application of Diffusion Theory

Petra Nahmias, Princeton University

Africa is often the neglected stepchild of Eurocentric demographic transition theory. The weak nation-state, extended kinship networks and lasting socio-cultural supports for elevated fertility have often challenged demographers. This paper addresses this central debate and examines the importance of ethnicity in determining fertility in West Africa. Utilizing Demographic and Health Surveys I look at the fertility behavior of ethnic groups spanning more than one country in the region, using a hazards model to determine the hazard of a recent birth. Furthermore, surveys are conducted at more than one point in time, allowing changes in fertility to be measured as countries enter the fertility transition. The results are expected to show the importance of ethno-linguistic groupings, as well as the mitigating effects of structural circumstances in different countries.

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Presented in Poster Session 1: Fertility, Family Planning, Reproductive Health