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International Journal of Population Research
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 486079, 11 pages
Research Article

Variations in Desired Family Size and Excess Fertility in East Africa

1Applied Statistics Department, University of Rwanda, University Avenue 1, BP 117, Butare, Rwanda
2International Development Studies Department, Utrecht University, P.O. Box 80115, 3508 TC Utrecht, The Netherlands
3Department of Human Geography and Planning, Utrecht University, P.O. Box 80115, 3508 TC Utrecht, The Netherlands

Received 12 February 2014; Revised 23 April 2014; Accepted 30 April 2014; Published 27 May 2014

Academic Editor: Sidney R. Schuler

Copyright © 2014 Dieudonné Ndaruhuye Muhoza et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This contribution studies the variation in desired family size and excess fertility in four East African countries by analyzing the combined impact of wealth, education, religious affiliation, and place of residence. The findings show an enormous heterogeneity in Kenya. Wealthy and higher educated people have fertility desires close to replacement level, regardless of religion, while poor, uneducated people, particularly those in Muslim communities, have virtually uncontrolled fertility. Rwanda is at the other extreme: poor, uneducated people have the same desired fertility as their wealthy, educated compatriots, regardless of their religion—a case of “poverty Malthusianism.”. The potential for family planning is high in both countries as more than 50% of the women having 5 children or more would have preferred to stop at 4 or less. Tanzania and Uganda have an intermediate position in desired family size and a lower potential for family planning. Generally, the main factor that sustains higher fertility is poverty exacerbated by religious norms among the poor only.