Fertility in Zambia: an application of the Bongaarts’ model of proximate determinants.

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Mwanza, Boniface
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The University of Zambia
Achieving sustainable fertility rates is important for any country; however, fertility levels in Zambia have remained relatively high. According to the 2013/14 Zambia Demographic and Health Survey, the country has a Total Fertility Rate (TFR) of 5.3 children per woman (CSO, 2015). Literature for Zambia, showed limited/scanty quantifiable evidence of inhibiting effects of the proximate determinants on fertility. This study sought to address this gap by attempting to generate data on quantifiable evidence of the proximate determinants of fertility in Zambia The main objective of this study was to apply the Bongaarts model to examine the impact of each of the proximate determinants to the realization of the current TFR in Zambia. This study focused on five proximate determinants of fertility namely marriage, contraceptive use, postpartum infecundity, primary sterility and abortion. The model used for generating indices for proximate determinants of fertility was the Bongaarts’ framework for analysing proximate determinants of fertility developed in 1978. The study used the Zambia Demographic and Health Survey (ZDHS) datasets from 1992, 1996, 2001/2, 2007 and 2013/14. The study also used data on abortion estimates from Guttmacher institute. Using Stata 11 and Excel 2013 analytical software packages, indices for each of the proximate determinants were generated for each of the respective years. The research findings revealed that non-marriage, contraception and postpartum infecundability seem to be contributing more in reducing fertility than primary sterility and induced abortion. Over the reference period, postpartum infecundity averted most births at 24.5 births followed by contraception use which averted 19.6 births. Non marriage then followed in third place with 12.4 births. This study findings suggest that the number of births to be averted by contraception use will continue to increase as can been seen from the evolving trends globally. Post-partum infecundability will continue to remains an important proximate determinant of fertility in Zambia in years to come, though the number of births averted might continue to drop over time as the country continues to modernise. Furthermore, this study findings suggest that the impact of non-marriage on fertility suppression in Zambia is expected to continue declining at a slow pace in years to come due to strong traditional and cultural beliefs that promote marital union and procreation in marital union The study offered suggestive evidence on the importance of adopting a holistic approach when dealing with proximate determinants of fertility. Success in addressing high fertility in the country will only be achieved if the country adopted a holistic approach when dealing with proximate determinants of fertility.