Exploring the Link between Political Capacity and Total Fertility Rate: The Case of Sub-Saharan Africa, 1980-2011
Author: Wen-yang Chang
Abstract / Chinese PDF Download
The phenomena of high total fertility rates (TFRs) and their impact on social and economic development within the Sub-Saharan African (SSA) region have attracted the attention of scholars, governments, and international organizations. However, data from the 48 SSA countries show that some have reduced TFR significantly, while others have not. To explain why TFRs vary, scholars have focused attention on social and economic explanations. Yet these explanations may not be applicable to SSA due to its relatively low overall development status. This article serves two main purposes. First, we start from a political perspective to explore whether or not changes in TFRs of SSA countries are affected by political capacity. Second, although there has been extensive discussion on political capacity, which dimension(s) of it contribute to lower TFR in SSA are still indeterminate. This article will identify which dimension(s) of political capacity can reduce TFR. Using data from between 1980 and 2011, this article finds that SSA countries with stronger political capacity are able to reduce fertility rates. In addition, looking at the dimensions of political capacity, there is theoretical and empirical support for the effect of extractive and steering capacities in reducing fertility rates. Legitimaztion and coercive capacities, on the other hand, have a quite limited application.