We use data from the Demographic and Health Surveys to examine the patterns of stall in fertility decline in four Eastern African countries. Contrary to patterns of fertility transition in Africa that cut across various socio-economic and geographical groups within countries, we find strong selectivity of fertility stall across different groups and regions in all four countries. In both Kenya and Tanzania where fertility decline has stalled at the national level, it continued to decline among the most educated women and in some regions. While fertility has remained at pre-transition level in Uganda over the past 20 years, there are signs of decline with specific groups of women (especially the most educated, urban and those in the Eastern region) taking the lead. For Zimbabwe, although fertility has continued to decline at the national level, stall is observed among women with less than secondary education and those in some of the regions. We link these intra-country variations to differential changes in socio-economic variables, family planning programme environment and reproductive behaviour models. The results suggest that declines in contraceptive use, increases in unmet need for family planning, increasing preferences for larger families, and increases in adolescent fertility were consistently associated with stalls in subgroup fertility across all four countries. These results are consistent with models that emphasize the role of declines in national and international commitments to family planning programmes in the premature stall in sub-Saharan fertility transition.
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B (2009) 364 (1532) 2991-3007 [doi: 10.1098/rstb.2009.0166]