Academic journal article Gender & Behaviour

Determinants of Fertility Preference among Couples in Nigeria: Implication for Fertility Control

Academic journal article Gender & Behaviour

Determinants of Fertility Preference among Couples in Nigeria: Implication for Fertility Control

Article excerpt


High fertility (marital and non-marital) remains one of the issues of great concern in developmental efforts of Africa (World Bank, 1989). Despite different population policies and intervention programmes, evidence in many sub-Saharan African countries reveals high and stalled levels of fertility (Bongaarts, 2006 and 2008; Westoff and Cross, 2006; Shapiro and Gebreselassie, 2008; Johnson et al, 2011 and Bankole and Audam, 2013). This is not unconnected with the socio-cultural and environmental situations (Bongaarts et al., 1984; Caldwell and Caldwell, 1987, 1990). Total fertility in West African countries is lowest in Ghana with 4.0. It is highest in Niger with 7.0 (NPC and ICF Macro, 2004 and 2009). While marital and non-marital fertility are on the high side in most developing countries, marital patronage of contraceptives is very low (Bankole and Audam, 2013) and contraceptive use has been established by studies as a significant and an important factor if there would be transition from high fertility to low fertility in any country (Westoff, 1990 and Ross Frankenberg, 1993).

Large family size portends serious challenges to family welfare and economic survival. In order to improve welfare of people and enhance rate of development, the United Nations developed the Millennium Development Goals. The goals include reducing child mortality rates and improving maternal health which are not unconnected with high fertility level and preference in some countries. In 2015, many countries of the world especially in sub-Saharan Africa failed to achieve the goals of universal access to reproductive health and general and substantial improvement in reproductive health. Therefore, another concerted effort was made in 2015 by introducing Global Sustainable Development Goals.

Fertility in sub-Saharan Africa is higher compared to other regions of the world (Mboup and Saha, 1998 and Makinwa-Adebusoye, 2001). The results of surveys carried out in Nigeria have revealed high fertility for more than 15 years. Evidence revealed a range of between 6.0 births per woman in 1990 to 5.7 in 2008. This figure reduced marginally to 5.5 births per woman in 2013 (NPC/ICF Macro, 2014). In Nigeria, there are many occurrences of unplanned pregnancies. Study revealed that four percent of all births are unwanted while seven percent are wanted but mistimed. The current use of contraceptive in Nigeria has increased from six percent in 1990, 13 percent in 2003 to 15 percent in 2008 and 2013 (NPC/ICF Macro, 2014). Evidence revealed that out of all currently married women, 20 percent have unmet need for contraception. The contraceptive prevalence rate for any method would have increased from 15 to 35 percent, if all married women who reported unmet need for contraception were to use contraceptive methods. The use of contraceptive methods for limiting or for child spacing will definitely improve maternal health and welfare of the couples (NPC and ICF Macro, 2009).

One of the reasons for high level of marital fertility in Nigeria is low usage of contraceptives. For instance, in Nigeria, 10 percent of married women currently use modern methods of family planning; an additional 5 percent are using traditional method (NPC and ICF Macro, 2009). Also, the use of modern family planning varies by residence and zone. Modern methods are used by 17 percent of married women in urban areas compared with 7 percent in rural areas. Moreover, modern contraceptive use ranges from 3 percent of married women in North West Zone to 21 percent in South West Zone (NPC and ICF Macro, 2009).

Marriage provides a sort of coverage for fertility. Evidence has confirmed that many children even within marriage are not desired or are products of unwanted pregnancies. Increase in the use of contraceptives can help in reducing infant and child mortalities, maternal mortality, the spread of HIV/AIDS, high risk pregnancy (too young, too many, too old and too close) and fertility levels. …

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