Socio-Economic Factors Influencing Fertility Levels and Differ entials in Ethiopia: The Case of Shewa Region

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Addis Ababa University


The main objectives of the present study are to determine the level of fertility on the one hand, and to examine the extent of the relationships between some selected socio-economic factors and fertility on the other, in Shewa region of Ethiopia. To this end, a 5 per cent stratified simple random sample of women aged 15 to 49 years is drawn from the 1984 population and Housing Census of Shewa region. The sample consists of all the relevant socio-economic and demographic information of 80528 eligible women. In the thesis, the sampling design is discussed, the reported age and fertility data are evaluated, the relationships between and socio-economic factors and fertility are examined; and the I relative importance of each of the soc io-economic variables considered are determined. Also summary of the main findings and their policy implications are presented. The evaluation indicates that the fertility data are subject to under-reporting/omission of births and hence the Brass P/F ratio method and the relational Gompertz model are employed to adjust the reported fertility estimates. The new fertility estimat es are appraised and show that the level of fertility in s hewa as well as in its urban and rural areas is quite high. According to these estimates , women in total and rural shewa bear, on the average, more than 7 children before the end of their reproductive period (i.e 45-49 years); while the corresponding figure in urban areas is about 6.5. In order to examine the relationships between socio-economic factors and fertility in the region, three procedures: univariate, bivariate and multivariate ana lyses are adopted. In all the procedures the mean number of children ever-born is used as a dependent variable and the socio-economic factors as independent variables . On the whole, the findings indicate a negative r es idence and fertility; education relationship between urban and fertility; economic activity (occupation) and fertility; and a positive relationship between duration of continuous residence of migrants and fertil i ty . The findings a l so suggest fertil ity differentials by migration status , marital status , province of residence, religion and ethnic ity . It is , however, observed in the multivariat e analysis that, when the effects of the specified variables are held constant, the range in ferti lity differentials is reduced. This, therefore , suggests that much of the fertility differentials could be accounted for by differences in the socio-economic and demographic c haracteristics of the women under study . The analysis further reveals that among the s elected predictor variables , marital status, province of r esidence , migration and ethnicity are the most important factors accounting for the greatest proportion of the variance in fertility. Education, occupation , urban/ rural residence and religion are also important but to a lesser extent. Finally, the policy implications of the findings are discussed and recommendations for immediate intervention are forwarded. Moreover, a detailed study of the relationships between social , economic, cultural and demographic factors and fertility in Ethiopia is recommended .