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Analyzing Social Aspect of Fertility, Regional Fertility Differentials and Challenges to Effective Population Control Mechanism in Africa

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SOCIAL DEMOGRAPHY:

 Analyzing social aspect of fertility, regional fertility differentials and challenges to effective population control mechanism in Africa.

Fertility is the natural capability of female to produce healthy offspring in abundance. When discussing social aspects of fertility it tends to analyze the correlation between fertility level in the different societies and child bearing among individuals and couples. It examines classical theories of fertility change at the societal level. It also examines the determinants of fertility at the individual level with an emphasis on differences in the limiting first birth and total family size by social class and ethnicity and developing countries.

There are different fertility levels in different societies and this is mostly measured by fertility rate which is the average number of children that would be born to a woman over her lifetime. Example in developed countries they tend to usually have a much lower fertility rate due to greater wealth, education and urbanization. Mortality rates are low due to availability of healthcare services; birth control is understood and easily accessible. Further, longer periods of lifetime are spent getting higher education which will enables women to have children later in life.

On contrary, underdeveloped countries, families desire children for their labour and as caregivers for parents in the old ages. Fertility rates are higher due to the lack of adequate access to contraceptives, strict adherence to traditional religious beliefs, generally lower levels of female education and lower level of female employment. Although the total fertility rate for the world has been declining very rapidly since the 1990s.

In explaining regional fertility differences or variations in the Philippines for example, family planning policymakers and programs staff are increasing aware of local variations in the needs and priorities of their clients. To plan and conduct a successful national program, managers needed good information on regions of their country plus the flexibility to adjust program activities in line with local requirements. The results from the National Demography Survey (NDS) for the Philippines’ demonstrates how regional differences in contraceptives practices and other behavior can affect fertility levels in different regions(Reolalas et al,1995).

Various factors that triggers fertility differential includes; the use of contraceptive methods, infecundity and cultural aspects. According to Reolalas et al (1995), low fertility at the regional level tended to be associated with the use of more effective methods. The effective contraceptive methods includes sterilization, the pill, IUDs or injectables while high fertility in various regional level is accompanied by application of less effective methods such as; condoms, diaphragms, foam, jelly or traditional methods such as periodic abstinence or withdrawal. Hence according to National Demographic Survey of Philippines, the application of contraceptive methods among different people in a particular society leads to fertility differentials. This particular demographic survey on regional fertility differentials in Philippines can also be applied in African countries as well.

In most developing countries, 60% of women of childbearing age have access to modern contraceptives. In much of Africa, the rate is 20%. There is a clear link between the provision of contraception and lower fertility. Uganda and Tanzania have roughly the same income per head, but Uganda’s government until recently discourages family planning, and the country has a significantly higher fertility rates. Somalia and Eritrea have roughly the same income per head, but Eritrea provides some family planning and has much lower fertility (WHO, 2008).

The result from the National Demographic Survey, Philippines points two factors, other than contraception, that help explain regional differences in fertility. One of these is “proximate determinants of fertility” which is the proportion of a woman’s reproductive years spent unmarried, and thus presumably not exposed to the risk of pregnancy. This is derived from the number of years before marriage plus the years spent divorced, widowed, or separated. Late marriage accounted for most of the time that women spent unmarried. Overall, fertility tended to be lower in regions where women in capital or in urbanized part of the country spent more of their reproductive years’ unmarried than women in other regions (Go et al, 1995).

According to Ocholla-Ayayo et al (2000), the very proximate determinant of fertility is infecundity. Women are considered infecund if they had been married during the entire five year period before any demographic survey, had not used any method of contraception, but had become pregnant. According to Go et al (1995), p 13, the infecundity measured in this way may appear high if spouses are physically separated for long period due to work or other causes. Hence the lowest infecundity rate of any region helps explain its high fertility level while the highest infecundity rate of any given region or society explains low fertility level.

Challenges to effective Population Control in Mechanism in Africa

Family, government and policymakers’ incompatibility concerning fertility control in Africa. The participant noted that the effectiveness of fertility policies which were typically pronatalist had varied and largely depended on whether the measure sought to influence the desired family or were aimed at assisting couples in fulfilling their desired family (United Nations Population Information Network, 1993). While the governments in Africa are keen to formulate policies which can help in population control, i.e., reduction of fertility rates, majority of families are not in agreement with the government because they believe that relatively high family sizes is good and women still want children for cultural and economic reasons; thus due to poverty and economic insecurity children are still required for labour, for late life security and increasingly for remittances. This incompatibility between the micro level (family) and the macro level (the government) concerning the impact of fertility goals and affects effective population control in Africa. The government focuses on population control through fertility reduction in order to achieve social and economic development for their citizens while the family still desire large family sizes for cultural and economic reasons as well.

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