Factors underlying fertility transition in Zimbabwe : an examination of proximate determinants using data from demographic and health surveys.
Choto, Tatenda J.
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Zimbabwe is amongst the few countries in Africa with a low fertility rate. The fertility transition began in the 1980s and has continued in recent years. The total fertility rate (TFR) declined from 5.5 births in 1988 to 4.3 births in 1994 and further declined in 1999 and 2005 to 4.0 births and 3.8 births respectively. Fertility declined by 1.7 births from 1988 to 2005. This study examines and evaluates the proximate determinants responsible for fertility decline in Zimbabwe from 1988 to 2005. The study attempts to address two questions: What are the principal proximate determinants responsible for fertility reduction in Zimbabwe? What is the contribution of each of the proximate determinants to fertility decline at different periods of time in Zimbabwe? This study utilizes data from the Zimbabwe Demographic and Health Surveys (ZDHS) conducted in Zimbabwe from 1988 to 2005. The model introduced by Bongaarts (1978, 1982) and later modified by Jolly and Gribble (1993) will be utilized in this study to evaluate the impact of these proximate determinants on fertility. The results from the study confirm that fertility has declined in Zimbabwe from 1988 to 2005. The decline in fertility was influenced by proportion of women married, contraceptive use and postpartum infecundability. Since abortion is illegal in Zimbabwe, there is no reliable data available to examine its impact on fertility. As a result this determinant was not examined in this study. The results show that contraceptive use is the leading inhibitive factor of fertility from 1988 to 2005 in Zimbabwe. The findings also confirm that postpartum infecundability followed by marriage patterns is also responsible for fertility reduction during the same period. The results also showed that there are no variations in proximate determinants of fertility from 1988 to 2005. A review of the literature suggests that Zimbabwe is amongst the few countries in the subSaharan Africa with a high contraceptive rate. The family planning programmes introduced by the government before and after independence which were well organized and administered influenced fertility levels observed in Zimbabwe. It is hoped that this study will assist policy makers in developing countries especially Africa to reduce fertility rates.