Stella Babalola, Joshua O. Akinyemi and Clifford O. Odimegwu
Nigeria has one of the highest fertility rates in Africa. Data from 2013 Demographic and Health Surveys indicate a virtual stagnation of fertility rate since 2003. Low contraceptive use and pronatalist attitudes are among the factors contributing to the high fertility rate in Nigeria. In this manuscript, we pooled data from three most recent waves of Demographic and Health Surveys to examine trends in demand for children over time and identify the factors associated with change in demand for children. The data show that demand for children has declined since 2003 although not monotonically so. Variables that were positively associated with increased likelihood of desiring no additional children were residence in the South-West (as opposed to residence in the North-Central), exposure to family planning (FP) messages on the mass media, number of children ever born, educational level, and urban residence. In contrast, uncertainty about fertility desire was more widespread in 2008 compared to 2013 although less widespread in 2003 than in 2013. The likelihood of being undecided about fertility desire was positively associated with discrepancies in family size desires between husband and wife, parity and Islamic religious affiliation. Programs should aim to increase access to effective contraceptive methods and promote demand for contraceptives as a way of fostering a sustainable reduction in demand for children. Furthermore, strategies that address uncertainty by fostering women’s understanding of the social and health implications of large family sizes are relevant.