Changes in demand for children between 2003 and 2013 in Nigeria: Evidence from survey data

Open access


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.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Abraham C. and Sheeran P. 2003. Acting on intentions: The role of anticipated regret. British Journal of Social Psychology 42 495-511.

  • Adebowale A. S. Fagbamigbe A. F. and Adebayo A. M. 2016. Regional Differences in Adolescent Childbearing in Nigeria. Journal of Population and Social Studies [JPSS] 24 101-116.

  • Adebowale S. A. Fagbamigbe F. A. and Bamgboye E. A. 2011. Contraceptive use: implication for completed fertility parity progression and maternal nutritional status in Nigeria. Afr J Reprod Health 15 60-7.

  • Adebowale S. A. and Palamuleni M. 2014. Childbearing dynamics among married women of reproductive age in Nigeria: re-affirming the role of education. African Population Studies 27 301-318.

  • Akinyemi A. Adedini S. Hounton S. Akinlo A. Adedeji O. Adonri O. Friedman H. Shiferaw S. Maiga A. Amouzou A. and Barros A. J. 2015a. Contraceptive use and distribution of high-risk births in Nigeria: a sub-national analysis. Glob Health Action 8 29745.

  • Akinyemi J. O. Adebowale A. S. Bamgboye E. A. and Ayeni O. 2015b. Child survival dynamics in Nigeria: Is the 2006 Child Health Policy Target Met? Nigerian Journal of Health Sciences 15 18-26.

  • Alexander A. A. Andow A. H. and Danpome M. G. 2015. Analysis of the main determinants of inflation in Nigeria. Analysis 6.

  • Alkema L. Kantorova V. Menozzi C. and Biddlecom A. 2013. National regional and global rates and trends in contraceptive prevalence and unmet need for family planning between 1990 and 2015: a systematic and comprehensive analysis. Lancet 381 1642-52.

  • Ankomah A. Anyanti J. and Oladosu M. 2011. Myths misinformation and communication about family planning and contraceptive use in Nigeria. Open Access Journal of Contraception 2 95-105.

  • Babalola S. 2017. Changes in ideational profiles of women of reproductive age in urban Nigeria: the role of health communication. Health Education & Behavior 1090198117699510.

  • Babalola S. John N. Ajao B. and Speizer I. 2015. Ideation and intention to use contraceptives in Kenya and Nigeria. Demographic Research 33 211-238.

  • Bankole A. and Audam S. 2011. Fertility preferences and contraceptive use among couples in sub-Saharan Africa. African Population Studies 11 556-586.

  • Barden-O’Fallon J. L. and Speizer I. S. 2010. Indonesian couples’ pregnancy ambivalence and contraceptive use. Int Perspect Sex Reprod Health 36 36-43.

  • Bhrolch xe in M. xe ire N. xed Beaujouan xc and va 2011. Uncertainty in fertility intentions in Britain 1979-2007. Vienna Yearbook of Population Research 9 99-129.

  • Bhrolcháin M. N. and Beaujouan É. 2011. Uncertainty in fertility intentions in Britain 1979-2007. Vienna Yearbook of Population Research 9 99-129.

  • Bhrolcháin M. N. and Beaujouan É. 2015. How real are reproductive goals? Uncertainty and the construction of fertility preferences. Working Paper 73. ESRC Centre for Population Change.

  • Blackstone S. R. 2016. Women’s empowerment household status and contraception use in Ghana. Journal of biosocial science 1-12.

  • Blumenthal P. Voedisch A. and Gemzell-Danielsson K. 2011. Strategies to prevent unintended pregnancy: increasing use of long-acting reversible contraception. Human reproduction update 17 121-137.

  • Bongaarts J. 2011. Can Family Planning Programs Reduce High Desired Family Size in Sub-Saharan Africa? International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health 37 209-216.

  • Bongaarts J. 2014. The impact of family planning programs on unmet need and demand for contraception. Stud Fam Plann 45 247-62.

  • Bongaarts J. 2017. Africa’s Unique Transition. In: Casterline J. B. & Bongaarts J. (eds.) Fertility Transition in sub-Saharan Africa. New York: Population Council.

  • Bongaarts J. and Casterline J. 2013. Fertility Transition: Is sub-Saharan Africa Different? Population and development review 38 153-168.

  • Caldwell J. C. and Caldwell P. 1987. The cultural context of high fertility in sub-Saharan Africa. Population and development review 409-437.

  • Caldwell J. C. and Caldwell P. 2002. Africa: The New Family Planning Frontier. Studies in family planning 33 76-86.

  • Caldwell J. C. Orubuloye I. O. and Caldwell P. 1992. Fertility decline in Africa: A new type of transition? Population and development review 211-242.

  • Casterline J. B. 2017. Prospects for fertility decline in Africa. In: Casterline J. B. & Bongaarts J. (eds.) Fertility Transition in sub-Saharan Africa. New York: Population Council.

  • Casterline J. B. and Agyei-Mensah S. 2017. Fertility Desires and the Course of Fertility Decline in sub-Saharan Africa. In: Casterline J. B. & Bongaarts J. (eds.) Fertility Transition in sub-Saharan Africa. New York: Population Council.

  • Casterline J. B. and El-Zeini L. O. 2007. The estimation of unwanted fertility. Demography 44 729-745.

  • Casterline J. B. and Odden C. 2016. Trends in inter-birth intervals in developing countries 1965-2014. Population and Development Review 26 691-723.

  • Cleland J. Conde-Agudelo A. Peterson H. Ross J. and Tsui A. 2012. Contraception and health. The Lancet 380 149-156.

  • Cleland J. G. Ndugwa R. P. and Zulu E. M. 2011. Family planning in sub-Saharan Africa: progress or stagnation? Bull World Health Organ 89 137-43.

  • Do M. and Kurimoto N. 2012. Women’s empowerment and choice of contraceptive methods in selected African countries. International perspectives on sexual and reproductive health 23-33.

  • Duze M. C. and Mohammed I. Z. 2006. Male knowledge attitude and family planning practices in Northern Nigeria. African Journal of Reproductive Health 10 53-65.

  • Ejembi Ladi C. Dahiru T. and Aliyu A. 2015. Contextual factors influencing modern contraceptive use in Nigeria. DHS Working Papers. No. 120. Rockville Maryland USA: ICF International

  • Federal Ministry of Health 2014. Nigeria Family Planning Blueprint (Scale-up Plan). Abuja Nigeria: Federal Government of Nigeria.

  • Feyisetan B. and Casterline J. B. 2000. Fertility preferences and contraceptive change in developing countries. International Family Planning Perspectives 26 100-109.

  • Frye M. and Bachan L. 2017. The demography of words: The global decline in non-numeric fertility preferences 1993-2011. Popul Stud (Camb) 71 187-209.

  • Gerland P. A. B. and Kantorova V. 2017. Fertility Transition in Africa. In: Casterline J. B. & Bongaarts J. (eds.) Fertility Transition in sub-Saharan Africa. New York: Population Council.

  • Hayford S. R. and Agadjanian V. 2011. Uncertain future non-numeric preferences and the fertility transition: A case study of rural Mozambique. African Population Studies 25 419-439.

  • Higgins J. A. 2017. Pregnancy Ambivalence and Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptive (LARC) Use Among Young Adult Women: A Qualitative Study. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health.

  • Holton S. Fisher J. and Rowe H. 2011. To have or not to have? Australian women’s childbearing desires expectations and outcomes. Journal of Population Research 28 353-379.

  • Hong R. Montana L. and Mishra V. 2006. Family planning services quality as a determinant of use of IUD in Egypt. BMC Health services research 6 79.

  • Ibisomi L. 2011. Ascertaining the level of fertility preference implementation in Nigeria. African Population Studies 25 471-486.

  • Ibisomi L. 2014. Is age difference between partners associated with contraceptive use among married couples in Nigeria? International perspectives on sexual and reproductive health 40 39-45.

  • Ibisomi L. and Mudege N. N. 2014. Childlessness in Nigeria: perceptions and acceptability. Cult Health Sex 16 61-75.

  • Izugbara C. Ibisomi L. Ezeh A. C. and Mandara M. 2010. Gendered interests and poor spousal contraceptive communication in Islamic northern Nigeria. Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care 36 219-224.

  • Izugbara C. O. and Ezeh A. C. 2010. Women and high fertility in Islamic northern Nigeria. Stud Fam Plann 41 193-204.

  • James-Hawkins L. Peters C. VanderEnde K. Bardin L. and Yount K. M. 2016. Women’s agency and its relationship to current contraceptive use in lower-and middle-income countries: A systematic review of the literature. Global Public Health 1-16.

  • Johnson-Hanks J. 2007. Natural Intentions: Fertility Decline in the African Demographic and Health Surveys. American Journal of Sociology 112 1008-1043.

  • JohnsonHanks J. 2005. When the Future Decides Uncertainty and Intentional Action in Contemporary Cameroon. Current Anthropology 46 363-385.

  • Jones R. K. 2017. Are Uncertain Fertility Intentions a Temporary or Long-term Outlook? Findings from a Panel Study. Womens Health Issues 27 21-28.

  • Kincaid D. L. 2000a. Mass Media Ideation and Behavior A Longitudinal Analysis of Contraceptive Change in the Philippines. Communication Research 27 723-763.

  • Kincaid D. L. 2000b. Social networks ideation and contraceptive behavior in Bangladesh: a longitudinal analysis. Social science & medicine 50 215-231.

  • Kodzi I. A. Casterline J. B. and Aglobitse P. 2010. The time dynamics of individual fertility preferences among rural Ghanaian women. Stud Fam Plann 41 45-54.

  • Lamidi E. O. 2015. State variations in women’s socioeconomic status and use of modern contraceptives in Nigeria. PLoS One 10 e0135172.

  • Maïga A. Hounton S. Amouzou A. Akinyemi A. Shiferaw S. Baya B. Bahan D. Barros A. J. Walker N. and Friedman H. 2015. Trends and patterns of modern contraceptive use and relationships with high-risk births and child mortality in Burkina Faso. Global health action 8 29736.

  • Mberu B. U. and Reed H. E. 2014. Understanding subgroup fertility differentials in Nigeria. Population review 53 23.

  • McQuillan J. Greil A. L. and Shreffler K. M. 2011. Pregnancy intentions among women who do not try: focusing on women who are okay either way. Matern Child Health J 15 178-87.

  • Miller W. Jones J. and Pasta D. 2016. An implicit ambivalence-indifference dimension of childbearing desires in the National Survey of Family Growth. Demographic Research 34 203-242.

  • Miller W. B. Barber J. S. and Gatny H. H. 2013. The effects of ambivalent fertility desires on pregnancy risk in young women in the USA. Population Studies 67 25-38.

  • Miller W. B. Barber J. S. and Schulz P. 2017. Do perceptions of their partners’ childbearing desires affect young women’s pregnancy risk? Further study of ambivalence. Population Studies 71 101-116.

  • Morgan S. P. and Rackin H. 2010. The Correspondence Between Fertility Intentions and Behavior in the United States. Population and Development Review 36 91-118.

  • Moultrie T. A. Sayi T. S. and Timaeus I. M. 2012. Birth intervals postponement and fertility decline: A new type of transition? Population Studies 66 241-258.

  • National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) 2014. CPI and Inflation Report - February 2014. CPI and Inflation Reports. Abuja Nigeria: National Bureau of Statistics.

  • National Population Commission (NPC) [Nigeria] 2014. Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey 2013. Abuja Nigeria and Rockville Maryland USA: NPC and ICF International.

  • Nketiah-Amponsah E. Arthur E. and Abuosi A. 2012. Correlates of contraceptive use among Ghanaian women of reproductive age (15-49 years): original research article. African journal of reproductive health 16 154-169.

  • Oginni A. B. Ahonsi B. A. and Adebajo S. 2015. Trend and Determinants of Unmet Need for Family Planning Services among Currently Married Women and Sexually Active Unmarried Women Aged 15-49 in Nigeria (2003—2013). African Population Studies 29 1483-1499.

  • Okigbo C. Speizer I. Domino M. and Curtis S. 2017. A Multilevel Logit Estimation of Factors Associated With Modern Contraception in Urban Nigeria. World Medical & Health Policy 9 65-88.

  • Okigbo C. C. Speizer I. S. Corroon M. and Gueye A. 2015. Exposure to family planning messages and modern contraceptive use among men in urban Kenya Nigeria and Senegal: a cross-sectional study. Reprod Health 12 63.

  • OlaOlorun F. Seme A. Otupiri E. Ogunjuyigbe P. and Tsui A. 2016. Women’s fertility desires and contraceptive behavior in three peri-urban communities in sub Saharan Africa. Reprod Health 13 12.

  • Orbell S. and Sheeran P. 1998. ‘Inclined abstainers’: A problem for predicting health-related behaviour. British Journal of Social Psychology 37 151-165.

  • Otu O. A. Jude O. and Ifeyinwa M. H. 2014. Application of Sarima models in modelling and forecasting Nigeria’s inflation rates. American Journal of Applied Mathematics and Statistics 2 16-28.

  • Oyediran K. A. Ishola G. P. and Feyisetan B. J. 2002. Factors affecting ever-married men’s contraceptive knowledge and use in Nigeria. Journal of biosocial science 34 497-510.

  • PMA2020 2018. Excellent family planning progress in Nigeria. Glob Health Sci Pract. 5 28-32.

  • RamaRao S. Lacuesta M. Costello M. Pangolibay B. and Jones H. 2003. The link between quality of care and contraceptive use. International Family Planning Perspectives 29 76-83.

  • Schoen R. Astone N. M. Kim Y. J. Nathanson C. A. and Fields J. M. 1999. Do Fertility Intentions Affect Fertility Behavior? Journal of Marriage and Family 61 790-799.

  • Sekoni O. and Oladoyin V. 2016. Determinants of family planning uptake among men in Ibadan Nigeria. Journal of Community Medicine and Primary Health Care 28 38-44.

  • Sennott C. and Yeatman S. 2012. Stability and Change in Fertility Preferences Among Young Women in Malawi. Int Perspect Sex Reprod Health 38 34-42.

  • Shapiro D. 2012a. Women’s education and fertility transition in sub-Saharan Africa. Vienna Yearbook of Population Research 10 9-30.

  • Shapiro D. 2012b. Women’s education and fertility transition in sub-Saharan Africa. Vienna yearbook of population research 2012 9-30.

  • Shapiro D. 2015. Accelerating Fertility Decline in Sub-Saharan Africa. Population Horizons 12 3-12.

  • Staveteig S. 2016. Understanding unmet need in Ghana: Results from a follow-up study to the 2014 Ghana Demographic and Health Survey. DHS Qualitative Research Studies No. 20. Rockville Maryland USA: ICF International.

  • Stephenson R. Beke A. and Tshibangu D. 2008. Contextual influences on contraceptive use in the Eastern Cape South Africa. Health & place 14 841-852.

  • Stover J. and Ross J. 2010. How increased contraceptive use has reduced maternal mortality. Maternal and Child Health 14 687-95.

  • Sundstrom B. Ferrara M. DeMaria A. L. Baker-Whitcomb A. and Payne J. B. 2017. Integrating Pregnancy Ambivalence and Effectiveness in Contraceptive Choice. Health Commun 32 820-827.

  • Teye J. K. 2013. Modern contraceptive use among women in the Asuogyaman District of Ghana: is reliability more important than health concerns?: original research article. African journal of reproductive health 17 58-71.

  • Tumlinson K. Speizer I. S. Davis J. T. Fotso J. C. Kuria P. and Archer L. H. 2013. Partner communication discordant fertility goals and contraceptive use in urban Kenya. African journal of reproductive health 17 79-90.

  • United Nations 2015. World Population Prospects: the 2015 Revision Methodology of the United Nations Population Estimates and Projections. Working Paper No ESA/P/WP.242. New York: Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division.

  • Westoff C. F. and Bankole A. 1995. Unmet Need: 1990-1994. Demographic and Health Surveys Comparative Studies. No. 16. Calverton MD: Macro International. Inc.

Journal information
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 58 58 19
PDF Downloads 44 44 14