The Importance of Ethnicity: Fertility Behavior and Ethnicity in West Africa

Petra Nahmias, Princeton University

Africa is often the neglected stepchild of Eurocentric demographic transition theory. The weak nation-state, extended kinship networks and lasting socio-cultural supports for elevated fertility have often challenged demographers. This paper addresses this central debate and examines the importance of ethnicity in determining current fertility and its proximate determinants in West Africa. Utilizing recent DHS surveys I look at the fertility behavior of ethnic groups spanning more than one country in the region, with current fertility and various proximate determinants as the dependent variable. I fit models for each country separately in the first analysis, followed by pooled fixed effects models for all countries in the second analysis. The results are expected to show the importance of ethno-linguistic groupings, as well as the mitigating effects of structural circumstances in different countries.

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Presented in Session 137: Fertility, Family Planning and Reproductive Health among Immigrant or Minority Populations