Publications Summary

Document Type
Analytical Studies
Recommended Citation
Westoff, Charles F., and Kristin Bietsch. 2015. Religion and Reproductive Behavior in Sub-Saharan Africa. DHS Analytical Studies No. 48. Rockville, Maryland, USA: ICF International.
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Publication Date
February 2015
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This paper reports an analysis of how religion may influence reproductive behavior in 28 countries of sub-Saharan Africa. In comparisons between Muslim and non-Muslim populations (including Catholics and other Christians as well as those with traditional religious beliefs), Muslim populations typically show higher fertility accompanied by preference for larger families, less use of contraception, earlier age at marriage, and greater prevalence of polygyny. The main objective of the study was to determine whether the pattern of higher Muslim fertility remains when important social and economic covariates are taken into account. These factors include education, wealth, rural-urban residence, exposure to mass media, child mortality, and measures of gender equality. The multivariate analyses reported here do not support the expectation that these socioeconomic covariates are responsible for the fertility-related differences between Muslim and non-Muslim women, although in some instances they reduce the magnitude of existing differences between groups.


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