Kenya began to experience rapid fertility decline in the late 1980s. However, this decline in fertility stalled in the late 1990s. This study examined factors influencing transition to third and fourth births in Kenya for the period between 2003 and 2008/9, in order to provide a better understanding of the current fertility transition in Kenya with respect to birth spacing. Data was obtained from the Kenya Demographic and Health Surveys (KDHS) of 2003 and 2008/9. Logistic regression model was the main method of data analysis. The dependent variable was whether or not a woman had made a transition from second to third birth and from third to fourth birth in the five years preceding each survey. The main independent variables were: education level, place of residence (urban-rural), region of the country, wealth index, marital status, religion, ever-use of contraception, child mortality, and mother’s age at the start of the birth interval.
The results showed that for the five-year period before KDHS 2008/9 the odds of transition to a third birth were lower for women with some education compared with women with no education. Odds were lower for women in Central, Eastern, and North Eastern provinces compared with women in Western province, but higher for women of the Protestant religion compared with Catholic women. The odds of transition to a third birth were lower for women from middle, richer, and richest households compared with women from poorest households, and
lower for women who had ever used a modern method of contraception compared with women who had never used contraception.
For the five year-period before KDHS 2008/9, the odds of transition from third to a fourth birth were significantly influenced by education level, wealth index, age at the start of the interval, ever-use of contraception, and desire
for an additional child. The results for the five
year-period before KDHS 2003 showed that transition
to fourth birth was significantly associated with region, wealth index, age at the start of the interval, ever-use of contraception, and desire for another child.
This paper has two main policy implications. First, there is a need to improve family planning services across the country, which would address the issues of unwanted fertility and unmet need for family planning and hence lead to a decline in fertility. Second, there is also a need to improve the socioeconomic conditions in the country. Higher levels of wealth and education are strongly associated with lower fertility.