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2008 NPHC Analytical Report »
»  Analytical Report on Fertility and Marriage

Executive Summary

The Government, realizing the adverse socio-economic consequences of rapid population growth, formulated integrated population policy guidelines in 1988 which accorded the moderation of fertility a priority. The family planning programme was enhanced and integrated as the key strategy to reduce fertility.

The International Conference on Population and Development, held in Mexico in 1984, had impact on Liberia’s policy formulation and led to the adoption of a National Population Policy for Social and Economic Development in 1988. The policy emphasizes reproductive health including family planning, sexual health and reproductive rights. It outlines Liberia’s goals, objectives and targets to guide the implementation of the population programmes up to the year 2010. These included reduction in infant mortality rate from 117 to 59 and TFR from 6.2 to 2.5.

The objectives of this report are to determine the levels and trends of fertility and nuptiality in Liberia.

The method developed by Brass (1968) with revised version of multipliers suggested by the United Nations (1983) using the Software Package (MORTPAK-LITE) developed by the United Nations (1988) has also been used to estimate fertility measures for Liberia.

Analyses of nuptiality levels and trends have been based on proportions of various marital statuses as portrayed by various censuses. Hajnal’s (1953) method has been applied to both proportions of single males and females to produce indices for Singulate Mean Age at First Marriage (SMAM). The proportion of childless women was obtained as the ratio of women reported as childless to all whose parities were stated.

The parity progression ratios are calculated by cumulating by parity to give the numbers with ’n’ or more children, and then dividing the numbers with (n + 1) or more.

Liberia’s fertility increased from 6.3 in 1970 to 7.1 in the 1984 census. The increase in fertility was attributed to low contraceptive prevalence rate, low age at marriage and high value accorded to children. However, the data in 2007 LDHS and 2008 Census showed that fertility is showing signs of decline.

The fertility decline in Liberia has begun, and the innovators of this transition are predominantly educated women and those residing in urban areas for which age at marriage increased remarkably. The momentum of this transition appears to have been more pronounced in urban areas and in some rural areas. However, a few counties such as Montserrado, Margibi , and Grand Cape Mount showed low fertility compared to the rest of the counties which indicated high fertility that is above national level of 43 births per thousand population (CBR) .

The total fertility rate of 7.1 in 1984 declined to 5.2 in the 2007 LDHS and increased slightly to 5.8 children per woman in 2008 census. Evidence of lower TFR in 2008 was recorded in urban centers, 4.9 compared to 6.5 in the rural areas.

Women who had attained senior high educational level had TFRs of 4.5. Moreover, TFR of 3 was observed among university women and 2 children for university graduates in 2008. Women with no education had TFRs of 7.2 and 6 for primary levels.

The fertility pattern indicated that women engaged in skilled agriculture, fishery and elementary occupations had higher fertility of 6 children per woman compared to other occupations such as senior managers/legislature, professional, technical and associate professionals and clerks.

Women who belonged to traditional African religion had the highest fertility rate of 7.8 children compared to the two main religious groups, Christian and Muslim who were almost the same.

The fertility rates by ethnicity showed that the Belle, Gio, Gola, Grebo, Krahn, Sapo and Mende ethnic groups had the highest fertility rates of 6 children per woman compared to 4 children for other African tribes. The total fertility rate for Liberian women was 5.8 children compared to 4.5 children for other Africans.

Widowed women reported relative higher fertility rate of 6 children per woman compared to other marital statuses.

The proportion of population never married aged 10 years and above showed an increased of 20.8 percent within the intercensal period 1962 through 2008 censuses. The proportion of population never married increased from 28.8 percent in 1962 to 38 percent in 1974 .This proportion was 43 percent in 1984 and rose up to 49.6 percent in 2008.

The Singulate Mean Age at Marriage (SMAM) in Liberia has steadily increased since 1962 for both male and female. In 1962, it was estimated at 21.6 years for both sexes, female at 18.1 years and 26.6 years for male. In 1974, SMAM was 20 years both sexes and 19 years for female and 26.5 years for male. In 2008, SMAM increased to 25.7 years for both sexes, 23.5 years for female and 28.2 years for male.

The counties of Maryland, Montserrado, Grand Gedeh, and Grand Kru depicted high SMAM of 27 years while Gbarpolu , Nimba and River Gee Counties showed between 25 and 26 years. The lowest SMAM of 23 to 24 years were observed in Grand Bassa, Grand Cape Mount, Bong , Bomi, River Cess and Sinoe counties.

The observed demographic trends make it necessary for the Government to intensify integration of population variables into socio-economic and cultural developments. There is also a need for public education to be given considerable attention in order to improve the quality of fertility responses in future censuses. Please follow link to get thematic map of this report. To view the thematic map of this report please click here.

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