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Child spacing in Sub-Saharan Africa: seven countries and a case for exceptionality

Tom A. Moultrie, University of Cape Town

In the early 1990s, Caldwell and others suggested a hypothesis that an African fertility decline would be characterised by declines in fertility at all ages and parities simultaneously, unlike that observed elsewhere in the developing world. Earlier research documented the development of exceedingly long median birth intervals in South Africa, and suggested that the combination of political, economic and institutional factors were responsible for that pattern. Tentative evidence from Zimbabwe suggested that similar features may be identifiable there, and that the ‘South African’ pattern was simply a harbinger of demographic change elsewhere in the region. These ideas are explored, with particular emphasis placed on the measurement and analysis of patterns of childbearing in eight countries using DHS data. Three distinct regional patterns of childbearing are identified, all of which are fundamentally different from those observed in a South East Asian country. This provides strong empirical support for the Caldwell hypothesis.

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Presented in Session 67: The demography of Africa