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Trends and factors associated with declining lifetime fertility among married women in Kenya between 2003 and 2014: an analysis of Kenya demographic health surveys
Authors: James Orwa, Samwel Maina Gatimu, Paulino Ariho, Marleen Temmerman and Stanley Luchters
Source: BMC Public Health, Volume 23; DOI:
Topic(s): Fertility
Country: Africa
Published: APR 2023
Abstract: Background: Globally, fertility has declined in the last three decades. In sub-Saharan Africa Including Kenya, this decline started more recent and at a slower pace compared to other regions. Despite a significant fertility decline in Kenya, there are disparities in intra- and interregional fertility. Reduction in lifetime fertility has health benefits for both the mother and child, thus it is important to improve women and children health outcomes associated with high fertility. The study, therefore evaluated the factors associate with change in lifetime fertility among married women of reproductive age in Kenya between 2003 and 2014. Methods: The study used the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (KDHS) datasets of 2003, 2008 and 2014. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to calculate the mean number of children ever born and to assess the change in fertility across different factors. Poisson regression model with robust standard errors was used to study the relationship between number of children ever born (lifetime fertility) and independent variables. A Poisson-based multivariate decomposition for the nonlinear response model was performed to identify and quantify the contribution of demographic, socioeconomic and reproductive correlates, to the change in lifetime fertility between 2003 and 2014. Results: The study included 3,917, 4,002, and 7,332 weighted samples of women of reproductive age in 2003, 2008, and 2014, respectively. The mean number of children born declined from 3.8 (95% CI: 3.6–3.9) in 2003 to 3.5 (95% CI: 3.4–-3.7) in 2008 and 3.4 (95% CI: 3.3–3.4) in 2014 (p?=?0.001). The expected number of children reduced with the age at first sexual intercourse, the age at first marriage across the survey years, and household wealth index. Women who had lost one or more children in the past were likely to have increased number of children. The changes in the effects of women’s characteristics between the surveys explained 96.4% of the decline. The main contributors to the change in lifetime fertility was the different in women level of education. Conclusion: The lifetime fertility declined by one-tenth between 2003 and 2014; majorly as a result of the effects of characteristics of women in terms of level of education. These highlights a need to implement education policies that promotes women education focuses on gender equality and women empowerment. Continuous strengthening of the healthcare systems (access to quality antenatal care, skilled delivery, and postpartum care) to reduce child mortality is essential.