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J Biosoc Sci. 2008 May;40(3):445-58. doi: 10.1017/S0021932007002544. Epub 2008 Jan 11.

Denominational affiliation and fertility behaviour in an African context: an examination of couple data from Ghana.

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Department of Sociology, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.


Although studies have examined religious differences in fertility in sub-Saharan Africa, it is argued in this paper that using women-only sample data may be conceptually problematic in patriarchal African societies where the influence of husbands on their wives' reproductive preferences is paramount. The present study contributes to this discourse by examining the relationship between religion and fertility behaviour using matched-couple data from Ghana. Guided by the 'religious values' and 'characteristics' hypotheses, the results indicate significant religious differences in fertility. Compared with Traditionalists, Christians and Muslims have lower fertility, albeit these differences diminish significantly after controlling for socioeconomic variables. The impact of wife's religious denomination on marital fertility is attenuated after controlling for husband's religious affiliation. Also, fertility was found to be higher if couples belong to the same faith compared with those of different faiths.

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