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Determinants of fertility in Rwanda in the context of a fertility transition: a secondary analysis of the 2010 Demographic and Health Survey
Authors: Ndahindwa V, Kamanzi C, Semakula M, Abalikumwe F, Hedt-Gauthier B, Thomson DR.
Source: Reproductive Health, 11(1):87. [Epub ahead of print]
Topic(s): Fertility
Country: Africa
Published: DEC 2014
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Major improvements to Rwanda's health system, infrastructure, and social programs over the last decade have led to a rapid fertility transition unique from other African countries. The total fertility rate fell from 6.1 in 2005 to 4.6 in 2010, with a 3-fold increase in contraceptive usage. Despite this rapid national decline, many women still have large numbers of children. This study investigates predictors of fertility during this fertility transition to inform policies that improve individuals' reproductive health and guide national development. METHODS: We used Poisson regression to separately model number of children born to ever married/cohabitated women (n = 8,309) and never married women (n = 1,220) age 15 to 49 based on 2010 Rwanda Demographic and Health Survey data. We used backward stepwise regression with a time offset to identify individual and household factors associated with woman's fertility level, accounting for sampling weights, clustering, and stratification. RESULTS: In ever married/cohabitating women, high fertility was significantly associated (p < 0.05) with the following variables: unmet need for contraception (IRR = 1.07), women's desire for children (5+ versus 0-2 children: IRR = 1.22), woman's number of siblings (8-20 versus 0-4: IRR = 1.03), and couples who desired different numbers of children (husband wants more: IRR = 1.04; husband wants fewer: IRR = 1.04). Low fertility in ever married/cohabitating women was associated with women's education (higher versus no education: IRR = 0.66), household wealth (highest versus lowest quintile: IRR = 0.93), and delayed sexual debut (25+ versus 8-18 years: IRR = 0.49). In never married women, low fertility was associated with education (higher versus no education: IRR = 0.22), household wealth (highest versus lowest quintile: IRR = 0.58), delayed sexual debut (25-49 versus 8-18 years: IRR = 0.43), and having an unmet need for contraception (IRR = 0.69). CONCLUSIONS: Although the study design does not allow causal conclusions, these results suggest several strategies to further reduce Rwanda's national fertility rate and support families to achieve their desired fertility. Strategies include policies and programs that promote delayed sexual debut via educational and economic opportunities for women, improved access to reproductive health information and services at schools and via health campaigns, and involvement of men in family planning decision making.