This study uses data from thirteen Demographic and Health Surveys to examine effects of female migration on fertility in African cities. Contrary to expectations, migration from villages and towns in the 1980s and 1990s reduced total fertility rates in African cities by about one birth, from an estimated average of 5·55 in the absence of migration to 4·59. New arrivals experience much lower fertility in their first few years in cities than long term residents of similar age and parity. This results from the initial unmarried status of most migrants, high levels of spousal separation among new arrivals who are married, dramatic increases in use of modern methods of contraception after 2 years in cities, and continuation of traditionally long durations of postpartum abstinence. Accomodation of additional migrants thus appears consistent with efforts to reduce fertility in cities. Moreover, prospects for increased contraceptive prevalencein Africa may depend heavily on changes in population distribution that influence the demand for children, specifically movement to cities.
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