Fertility Preferences and Contraceptive Use among Couples in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Re-examination of the Role of Men

Akinrinola Bankole, Guttmacher Institute
Suzette Audam, Guttmacher Institute

The Sub-Saharan African fertility regime continues to defy theory and puzzle population experts. The hope of imminent decline in fertility in the region raised by substantial declines in fertility in countries like Zimbabwe, Kenya, and Ghana has been dashed by the stall in that trend at high levels of fertility. Studies have shown that knowledge of or assumptions about husbands' opposition to family planning prevents wives from using contraceptives even when they want to stop childbearing. This paper examines the reproductive preferences and behavior of married women and their husbands in 23 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa using data from the Demographic and Health Surveys. Results show that men are not significantly more pronatalist than women and their preferences do not exert greater influence on contraceptive use among couples. The male factor does not appear to be the predominant explanation for the lack of appreciable decline in African fertility.

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Presented in Session 35: Involving Men - for Better or Worse?