Drivers of desire for more children among childbearing women in sub-Saharan Africa: implications for fertility control

Ahinkorah, Bright Opoku, Seidu, Abdul-Aziz, Armah-Ansah, Ebenezer Kwesi, Budu, Eugene, Ameyaw, Edward Kwabena, Agbaglo, Ebenezer, and Yaya, Sanni (2020) Drivers of desire for more children among childbearing women in sub-Saharan Africa: implications for fertility control. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, 20. 778.

PDF (Published Version) - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (758kB) | Preview
View at Publisher Website:



Despite the extensive research on fertility desires among women the world over, there is a relative dearth of literature on the desire for more children in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). This study, therefore, examined the desire for more children and its predictors among childbearing women in SSA.


We pooled data from 32 sub-Saharan African countries’ Demographic and Health Surveys. A total of 232,784 married and cohabiting women with birth history, who had complete information on desire for more children made up the sample for the study. The outcome variable for the study was desire for more children. Multilevel logistic regression analysis was conducted. Results were presented using adjusted odds ratios (aOR), with their corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CI).


The overall prevalence of the desire for more children was 64.95%, ranging from 34.9% in South Africa to 89.43% in Niger. Results of the individual level predictors showed that women aged 45–49 [AOR = 0.04, CI = 0.03–0.05], those with higher education [AOR = 0.80, CI = 0.74–0.87], those whose partners had higher education [AOR = 0.88; CI = 0.83–0.94], women with four or more births [AOR = 0.10, CI = 0.09–0.11], those who were using contraceptives [AOR = 0.68, CI = 0.66–0.70] and those who had four or more living children [AOR = 0.09 CI = 0.07–0.12] were less likely to desire for more children. On the other hand, the odds of desire for more children was high among women who considered six or more children as the ideal number of children [AOR = 16.74, CI = 16.06–17.45] and women who did not take decisions alone [AOR = 1.58, CI = 1.51–1.65]. With the contextual factors, the odds of desire for more children was high among women who lived in rural areas compared to urban areas [AOR = 1.07, CI = 1.04–1.13].


This study found relatively high prevalence of women desiring more children. The factors associated with desire for more children are age, educational level, partners’ education, parity, current contraceptive use, ideal number of children, decision-making capacity, number of living children and place of residence. Specific public health interventions on fertility control and those aiming to design and/or strengthen existing fertility programs in SSA ought to critically consider these factors.

Item ID: 66611
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1471-2393
Keywords: Desire, Children, Reproductive health, Women, Public health, Sub-Saharan Africa
Copyright Information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.
Date Deposited: 09 May 2021 23:48
FoR Codes: 32 BIOMEDICAL AND CLINICAL SCIENCES > 3215 Reproductive medicine > 321503 Reproduction @ 50%
42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4206 Public health > 420606 Social determinants of health @ 50%
Downloads: Total: 514
Last 12 Months: 93
More Statistics

Actions (Repository Staff Only)

Item Control Page Item Control Page