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Fertility rates and social media usage in sub-Saharan Africa
Authors: Jet Wildeman,Sandor Schrijner, and Jeroen Smits
Source: Population Space & Place, DOI:
Topic(s): Fertility
Country: Africa
  Multiple African Countries
Published: NOV 2022
Abstract: This study examines the connection between social media usage and fertility behaviour in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Whereas the link between traditional media and fertility behaviour has been firmly established, the link between social media and fertility is yet unclear, although social media has expanded enormously in recent years and provides opportunities both to acquire information and allow social interaction. We combine digital trace data from Facebook with fertility rates for 311 subnational regions in 29 sub-Saharan African countries. Our analysis starts with describing spatial patterns of crude birth rates, Facebook usage and gender gaps in Facebook usage, and continues with regression analysis to test whether the associations remain significant after controlling for confounders. We find higher social media usage and gender equality in social media usage to be associated with lower birth rates. This study is one of the first to demonstrate connections between social media usage and fertility outcomes in the SSA region.