Persistence of traditional high fertility in tropical Africa: the case of the Democratic Republic of Congo

Anatole Romaniuc, University of Alberta

Analysis points to the persistence of traditional fertility regime in the D. R. of Congo, and there are no detectable signs of an imminent onset of transition. The fundamental question is why the long sought demographic transition has so far eluded it and much of the tropical Africa? Low developmental level and traditional kinship are at the very heart of the explanation. Congo has not yet met prerequisites for a sustained fertility decline. Considerations like self-fulfilment, family versus non-family investment, opportunity cost of motherhood, children’s quality versus quantity have not entered the family formation calculus of the Congolese people, nor could they have arisen given the low developmental level. To conceptualise the persisting pre-modern demographic regime, one ought to resurrect such somewhat dated concepts as the “vicious circle of poverty” or “Malthusian checks". Nuclear family is not yet an alternative to the extended kinship under the prevailing conditions.

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Presented in Session 67: The demography of Africa