MPIDR Working Paper
Evidence of recent fertility decline in Eritrea: an analysis of trends and determinants
MPIDR Working Paper WP-2005-026, 30 pages.
Rostock, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (August 2005)
This paper contributes to an improved understanding of the recent fertility decline in Eritrea and the possible factors underlying it. Based on data from the 2002 Eritrea Demographic and Health Survey (EDHS), it offers increased clarity as to whether the recent decline indicates the onset of a long-term fertility transition or if it is merely a short-term response to the border conflict with Ethiopia (mid-1998-2000). Various methods, including period trend analyses by age and parity, cohort fertility analysis, and multivariate statistical methods, are used to assess the extent of the decline and to identify major contributors to it. The evidence from this study indicates that fertility decline has started in Eritrea and that it has occurred in urban and rural areas, and in every region of the country. The decline is evident across all reproductive ages and birth orders, but is stronger among older mothers and for higher-order births. A prolonged spacing of births, cessation of further childbearing, and delayed age at marriage are the main contributors to the overall fertility decline. The study also reveals that the fertility decline started in the mid-1990s, well before the conflict, but it was faster during the peak years of the border conflict (1999-2000). This suggests that the reduction in fertility is not primarily an outcome of the border conflict (nor a temporary phenomenon), but that it might be the beginning of a long-term fertility transition, which was then accelerated by the border war and the associated social and economic crisis.
Keywords: Eritrea, fertility