Social and cultural determinants of fertility in Nigeria

Peter Chikelue Nwakeze, Fordham University


Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, and ranks among the ten most populous countries of the world. It is projected that at the current rate of population growth its population will reach 166 million by the year 2000; and 280 million by the year 2015. In response to this, the government has come up with a policy aimed at fertility reduction. This study examines the determinants of fertility behavior among 9,727 randomly selected Nigerian women, using the Nigeria Fertility Survey data. A path analysis is used to explore the effects of selected socio-cultural, economic, and demographic variables on fertility. The major findings are as follows: (1) It appears that none of the major background socio-cultural and economic variables used in this study, namely, education, religion, occupation, type of marriage, and regional residence has significant relationship with recent fertility. It could be argued, therefore, that there is no difference in the way women of different social backgrounds responded to fertility-impacting structures during the recent fertility period covered by the study. (2) However, a secondary analysis suggests that there is a significant relationship between cumulative fertility and each of the following variables: education, religious affiliation, and regional residence. (3) Furthermore, our findings show that respondents who own modern household items such as radio and television sets, cars and motorcycles tend to have, in general, higher probability of births during the two- and five-year recent fertility periods compared with those who do not own those items. Respondents with modern household items also tend to have higher cumulative fertility than those without such household items. (4) In all the recent fertility models, including the model using cumulative fertility as the dependent variable, there are significant positive relationships between total number of children who had died prior to survey and fertility; and there are, on the other hand, significant negative relationships between age at marriage and fertility. The policy implications of findings for fertility reduction in Nigeria are considered; and suggestions are made toward methodological improvement for a better understanding of fertility behavior.

Subject Area

Demographics|Social research|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Nwakeze, Peter Chikelue, "Social and cultural determinants of fertility in Nigeria" (1991). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9137205.