Journal Article

Stalls in fertility transitions in sub‐Saharan Africa: Revisiting the evidence

Stalls in fertility decline were first identified in Ghana and Kenya in the early 2000s, and since then as many as 20 African countries have been classified in the “stall” category at some point. The countries and time periods in which they occurred are not well established, however, and whether stalls in sub‐Saharan Africa are pervasive or not remains an open question. This article identifies where and when fertility stalls have occurred in sub‐Saharan Africa. I combine a variety of data sources and methods to identify cases of fertility stalls strongly supported by the data. I find unambiguous support for stalls in two countries (Namibia and Zimbabwe), very strong support in three additional countries (Congo, Kenya, and Zambia), and fairly strong support in Cameroon, in the early 2000s. Stalls are possible in seven cases in six other countries (Côte d'Ivoire, Gabon, Madagascar, Nigeria, South Africa, and Tanzania), where evidence is moderate. Fertility stalls in sub‐Saharan Africa are thus not widespread, but they are not exceptional either. Further research on the causes of these stalls is key to a better understanding of the future paths of fertility in sub‐Saharan Africa.

Published in a peer-reviewed journal of the Population Council.