DETERMINANTS OF FERTILITY IN ZIMBABWE: AN ASSESSMENT OF THE PERIOD 1999 - 2005
Gamba, Lovejoy S.
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Zimbabwe’s Total Fertility Rate (TFR) of 5.5 in 1988 (Central Statistical Office, 1988) has declined to a current level of 3.3 (Central Statistical Office, 2008). The decline has taken place in both less and more developed regions of the country and socio-economic groups, and has occurred with a rapidity many did not anticipate. The explanations so far advanced for this phenomenon are neither clear nor conclusive. Among the salient unaccounted for features of the fertility decline are the marked regional differentials and the large declines in some regions with low contraceptive use. Previous studies were limited to the use of data collected, and did not seek for clues which might explain the regional fertility levels, trends and patterns. Estimating fertility levels for the period before 1960 in Sub-Saharan Africa has proved difficult since demographic data for that period are lacking. Even in countries where censuses were undertaken, the data are unreliable and of limited content as the motives for their collection were far removed from demographic analysis. However, with the conduct of more censuses and surveys, and advances in methods of demographic estimation, a reasonable picture of fertility trends subsequent to 1960 can be constructed. In 2005, according to the UN World Population Prospects (2008 Revision), the World TFR was 2.7. In the same year, TFR for Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean was both at 2.5, 1.5 for Europe, 4.9 for Africa, 5.5 for Sub-Saharan Africa and 3.6 for Zimbabwe (UN World Population Prospects – 2008 Revision). Little fertility change occurred in the period before 1980 in Africa. United Nations World Population Prospects (2008 Revision)estimates suggest that the total fertility rate in Africa declined by only 1 percent between 1970 - 75 and 1975 - 80, and by about 2 percent between 1965 - 70 and 1970 - 75. These changes are insignificant and could be attributable to errors in these estimates.