On the empirical study of fertility transition: A case for application of age-adjusted measures in multivariable analysis
Among studies of factors driving fertility transitions, the cumulative children ever born (CEB) has been treated as the dependent variable in multivariable models. Some of these studies have cited total fertility rates (TFRs) in their rationales for investigating the determinants of fertility transition. However, CEB and TFR (which are computed from age-specific fertility rates) are notably disparate measures of fertility. The aim of this study was to argue that where TFRs are cited as a basis for an investigation of driving factors of fertility transitions, the dependent variable in the multivariable modeling ought to be an adjusted measure of fertility. The study applied trend analysis to examine the extent to which CEB and age-specific marital fertility rates (ASMFR) reflected trajectories of the trends of total marital fertility rates (TMFRs) in Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, and Zimbabwe. Multivariable analysis based on the two-fold Oaxaca-Blinder decomposition technique was applied to examine how using ASMFR compared to CEB impacts the understanding of factors of fertility change, using the case of Zimbabwe. Trend analysis showed that ASMFR was more effective in reflecting fertility trends and measuring the role of associated factors. The results from multivariable analyses show that a case can be made for the use of adjusted measures in the understanding of factors of fertility transition.
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