The impact of fertility on household economic status in Cameroon, Mali and Senegal
The purpose of this study is to measure the impact of family size on the socioeconomic status of households in three sub-Saharan African countries (Cameroon, Mali and Senegal). This study has a microeconomic tie-in with the theory of social capillarity, which states that the smaller the family, the better its chances of climbing the social ladder, and that a high birth rate hampers the probability of social mobility and can therefore impoverish families. We use recent demographic and health survey data from the three countries to test this hypothesis. These data have the advantage of providing detailed information on fertility, durable goods and households? housing characteristics. The information is used to build suitable indicators of household assets and of fertility and its instruments. Methodologically, we take rigorous tests to show that fertility can be considered as exogenous in the three countries in question. The estimates consequently find that fertility has a negative impact on the socioeconomic status of women and that this effect is strongest in Cameroon and Senegal, while it is weaker in Mali. Quantile regressions find that demographic pressure has more of a negative effect on assets when households are in the first quartile of the distribution of assets than when they are in the last quartile. These findings are robust to different alternative specifications. An obvious policy recommendation is the importance of putting in place effective family planning policies.
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