Ethiopia, with nearly 65 millionpeople, is the second most populous country in sub-Saharan Africa. Fertility levels are among the highest in the world. Using the matched wife-husband sample from the 1990 National Family and Fertility Survey of Ethiopia we investigate the fertility desires of wives and husbands and the degree to which they are similar, including whether a preference for sons exists. We model the determinants of the desire to limit or space births, and estimate unmet need. Results indicate high levels of concurrence among husbands and wives on reproductive preferences. Where differences exist, husbands are more pronatalist than their wives. Both husbands and wives prefer to have sons and daughters, but more sons overall. Approximately 22% of wives and husbands desire to limit or space births but do not use contraception. More than half of wives and husbands with an unmet need for limiting are paired with a partner who has no such need. Three implications follow from these results: (1) differences in wives' and husbands' son and daughter preferences may help to explain discordant views among couples when it comes to the desire to limit or space births; (2) husbands' overall contribution to wives' unmet need can be substantial in African societies in the early stages of fertility transition; and (3) wives' preferences regarding children and contraception can result in unmet need on the part of husbands, even in highly gender-stratified societies where men are more pronatalist.
Population Research and Policy Review – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 12, 2004
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