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The Incipient Fertility Transition and Women’s Labor Force Participation in Sub-Saharan Africa, 1991-2005: Evidence from the Demographic and Health Surveys
Authors: Fatou Jah
Source: African Population Studies, 28(2 Supplement): 1103-1118; DOI:
Topic(s): Employment
Women's status
Country: Africa
  Multiple African Countries
Published: JUL 2014
Abstract: Sub-Saharan Africa has experienced an expansion of schooling, accompanied by delays in marriage and lower fertility. These trends stand to boost women’s employment prospects and foster further fertility decline through a variety of plausible mechanisms. But the evidence has been spotty. Building on the diversity of recent fertility changes within countries and taking advantage of repeat nationally representative and comparable DHS surveys, we attempt a large-scale historical analysis to provide an early assessment of the status of the transition in 21 countries. To evaluate the prospects for further declines in the region, we use multiple techniques to quantify the effect of fertility on employment as well as its contribution relative to other factors to observed changes in women’s employment within countries. Results show a growing negative relationship in some countries and no relationship in others. Implications for the transition and inequality in the region are discussed.