Reconstructing Fertility Trends in Sub-Saharan Africa by Combining Multiple Surveys Affected by Data Quality Problems
Bruno D. Schoumaker, Université Catholique de Louvain
The recent fertility trends in sub-Saharan Africa have generated interesting debates. Since the early 2000s, situations of fertility stalls or reversals of fertility declines have been described and analyzed in several African countries, and have been linked to the slowing down of investments in family planning programs in several settings. Recent work suggests however that the standard approach used to measure fertility trends – namely comparing recent ly published fertility estimates (over the three years preceding the surveys) in several consecutive surveys – may be flawed. The objective of this paper is to estimate fertility trends in sub-Saharan Africa using full birth histories and restricted cubic splines, taking into account data quality problems. Pooling surveys together, fertility can be reconstructed over periods as long as 25 to 30 years in many African countries. The method is used for all the 23 sub-Saharan African countries with at least 2 available DHS surveys.