MPIDR Working Paper
Neglected forces of fertility variation in sub-Saharan Africa: the role of marital dissolution and repartnering
MPIDR Working Paper WP-2023-031, 42 pages.
Rostock, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (August 2023)
Union dissolution and repartnering are fundamental features of nuptiality regimes in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). However, they are greatly overlooked in the discourse of macro fertility developments in this region. This paper addresses this gap. Theoretically, the paper argues for a modified conceptual framework linking union dissolution, repartnering and fertility that emphasizes adaptation mechanisms as a central pathway through which union dissolution and repartnering affect fertility. Empirically, the paper uses Demographic Health Survey data to examine: (i) the macro-level relationship between union dissolution and repartnering rates with fertility, (ii) the contribution of union dissolution and repartnering rates to cross-country fertility variation, and (iii) the influence of union dissolution and repartnering on the pace of fertility decline. The results revealed that union dissolution and repartnering dynamics are important forces of fertility variation in SSA. Higher union dissolution rates are associated with lower fertility, and country heterogeneity in union dissolution and repartnering rates account for 9.0% of cross-country fertility differences. Furthermore, it is found that union dissolution and repartnering dynamics mostly slowed the pace of fertility decline. These findings call for a new research agenda for integrating union dissolution and repartnering dynamics in the discourse of union-fertility nexus and fertility variation in SSA and beyond.
Keywords: Germany/GDR, cohort fertility, dissolution of marriage, fertility decline, remarriage