Fertility transition in Lesotho : the recent trends, socioeconomic factors and proximate determinants.
There is a general perception that fertility has been declining over a decade in Lesotho, and this has sparked the debate that fertility transition is drawing closer in Lesotho. The growing concern was stimulated by limited studies showing the effect of socio-economic factors on fertility in Lesotho and variations in proximate determinants. The paper examines recent fertility trends in Lesotho using various demographic techniques of fertility estimation and determines whether the onset of fertility transition has begun in Lesotho. The secondary aim is to assess and control errors in the Lesotho Demographic and Health Survey of 2004, thus providing robust and reliable estimates. The analysis utilizes the secondary data from 2004 Lesotho Demographic and Health Survey (LDHS). The data set comprised of a sample of 7095 women who participated in the survey. The use of 1996 Lesotho Population Census and 2002 Lesotho Reproductive and Health Survey were made to facilitate comparison with 2004 LDHS, and to provide differentials and measure changes over time in fertility. The P/F ratio method developed by Brass and the modified version, Relational Gompertz Model are employed and used to assess the quality of data as well as determining fertility levels and trends. The findings reveal that the overall fertility among women in Lesotho during 2004 LDHS is 4.02. Application of different methods depicts that fertility remains high in Lesotho, although considered moderate according to sub-Saharan standards. Despite the fact that TFR is high, overall fertility decline is evident. The estimates of fertility range between 3.5 and 5.6 depending on the technique in use. The reason for the high observed fertility is that women in the rural areas still cherish quite a substantial family size. Nevertheless, changing acceptance and perception of using contraception, delayed marriage, high levels of education and economic development among women in Lesotho contributes considerably to fertility declines in Lesotho. As a result, disparities that continue to propel fertility levels within population groups incite reassessment of existing research and policy so as to enhance development strategies as well as action programmes.