Samuel Agyei-Mensah, University of Ghana

This paper charts the trajectory of the African fertility decline over the past 50 years and provides a critical assessment of the scholarly perspectives that have characterized the approach to African fertility since the 1960s. It examines published literature, with a focus on analyses of the demographic surveys (WFS and DHS) conducted over this period. Issues that have been in the forefront and featured in this paper include: high and declining fertility; pauses and stalls in fertility decline; wanted and unwanted fertility; neighborhoods and fertility; and the notion of a four-birth African reproductive regime. The paper offers a synopsis of the empirical pattern of African fertility decline to date while at the same time challenging some of the dominant scholarly approaches in the past and the present.

Presented in Session 7: Fifty Years of Demography in Africa