Fertility rates and population growth influence economic development. The marked declines in fertility seen in some developing nations have been accompanied by slowing population growth, which in turn provided a window of opportunity for rapid economic growth. For many sub-Saharan African nations, this window has not yet opened because fertility rates have not declined as rapidly there as elsewhere.
Fertility rates in many sub-Saharan African countries are high: the total rate for the region is estimated to be 5.1 births per woman, and rates that had begun to decline in many countries in the region have stalled. High rates of fertility in these countries are likely to contribute to continued rapid population growth: the United Nations projects that the region's population will increase by 1.2 billion by 2050, the highest growth among the regions for which there are projections.
In June 2015, the Committee on Population organized a workshop to explore fertility trends and the factors that have influenced them. The workshop committee was asked to explore history and trends related to fertility, proximate determinants and other influences, the status and impact of family planning programs, and prospects for further reducing fertility rates. This study will help donors, researchers, and policy makers better understand the factors that may explain the slow pace of fertility decline in this region, and develop methods to improve family planning in sub-Saharan Africa.