From Demographic Research:
On the pace of fertility decline in sub-Saharan Africa
BY David Shapiro, Andrew Hinde
DATE PUBLISHED: 24 Oct 2017
Background: This descriptive finding examines the comparative pace of fertility decline in sub-Saharan Africa, relative to Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Northern Africa.
Objective: We seek to determine if fertility decline has been slower in sub-Saharan Africa than elsewhere in the developing world.
Methods: United Nations 2017 estimates of national fertility are used in assessing the comparative pace of fertility decline, and the four regions are compared in terms of how far they are into their fertility transition.
Results: The data shows clearly that fertility decline in sub-Saharan Africa, still at a comparatively early stage, has been considerably slower than the earlier declines in Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Northern Africa at comparable stages of the transition, and displays less within-region heterogeneity than the transitions in these other regions.
Conclusions: The slower pace of fertility decline in sub-Saharan Africa, in conjunction with the high current fertility levels in the region, means that in the absence of policies seeking to accelerate fertility decline, sub-Saharan Africa will continue to experience rapid population growth that in turn will constrain its development.
Contribution: Presentation of data in a novel way (Figures 2‒4, and associated calculations) unambiguously demonstrates the slow pace of fertility decline in sub-Saharan Africa compared with other regions of the world. …
Figure 4 provides an alternate way of showing the comparative pace of fertility decline, emphasizing relative changes. Using the peak fertility rule, the figure shows the relative declines in fertility as transition proceeds. After 35 years of fertility decline, sub-Saharan Africa’s TFR was at 75% of its peak value. In the three other regions, after 35 years of fertility decline the TFR ranged between 44% and 50% of its peak value.
I would add that fertility in North Africa (orange-brown line) wasn’t falling very fast either compared to Sub-Saharan Africa (blue line) for about the first 20 years of its demographic transition. But then North Africa hit an inflection point and became more like Asia and Latin America (until recently).
So, the problem posed the whole world by the African population explosion isn’t insoluble, but it is challenging. It seems pretty comparable to Climate Change, but it has gotten several orders of magnitude less attention.