The Open Public Health Journal

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Variations in Desired Fertility Preferences among Young and Older Women in Nigeria: Evidence from Demographic Health Survey 2018

Kemi Akeju1, *, Taiwo Owoeye1, Raphael Ayeni2, Lucy Jegede3
1 Department of Economics, Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti, Nigeria
2 Department of Economics, University of the Gambia, Kanifing, Banjul, Gambia
3 Department of Sociology, Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti, Nigeria



Despite many countries of the world with fertility below replacement level, fertility rate in Nigeria remains high with contributing factors associated with high fertility preference and the desire for large families.


This paper explores variations in desired fertility preference among Nigerian women within the reproductive ages 15 to 49. It considers the impact of proximate factors of age, wealth, education, use of contraceptives, and other associated factors on fertility preference.


Using Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS 2018) data, responses of 33924 women with children of 0-60months (birth recode file) were considered. Fertility preference is measured by “ideal no of children”. Responses from the dataset were coded into two groups (desire 1-4 children and desire more than 4 children) based on the implicit Four-child Policy of National Policy on Population for Development, Unity, Progress, and Self-reliance of 1988. We use descriptive statistics, logistic regression and cox proportional regression to identify the size and associating impacts of identified explanatory variables on the two groups.


Many Nigerian women desire more than four children, with ideal family desire of more than four children higher in rural areas than in urban areas. Wealthy and educated households have lower fertility preferences. Younger women within ages 15-29 tend to desire lower fertility but use fewer contraceptives than middle-aged women 30-49. Only 12% of Nigerian women within the reproductive ages use contraceptives.


Educating younger women through community-based sensitization programs would reduce the desire for large family size and prevent unintended pregnancy.

Keywords: Fertility preference, Desired ideal family size, Regional variation, Use of contraceptives, Young and older women, Women educational attainment.

Article Information

Identifiers and Pagination:

Year: 2021
Volume: 14
First Page: 84
Last Page: 93
Publisher Id: TOPHJ-14-84
DOI: 10.2174/1874944502114010084

Article History:

Received Date: 21/12/2020
Revision Received Date: 25/1/2021
Acceptance Date: 26/1/2021
Electronic publication date: 22/03/2021
Collection year: 2021

© 2021 Akeju et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Economics, Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti, Iworoko Road, Nigeria; Tel: +2348033976774;

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