Population Research and Policy Review

, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 59–83 | Cite as

Urbanization and the fertility transition in Ghana

  • Michael J. WhiteEmail author
  • Eva Tagoe
  • Catherine Stiff
  • Kubaje Adazu
  • Daniel Jordan Smith


This paper examines the way in which migration and urban residence operate to alter fertility outcomes. While urban-rural fertility differentials have long been established for most developing societies, the nature of these differences among migrants and between migrants and those of succeeding generations is not well understood. The evidence presented here suggests that rural-urban migration and urbanization may contribute positively to processes of fertility transition. Using data from the 1998 Kumasi Peri-Urban Survey, which included a 5-year retrospective monthly calendar of childbearing, we suggest that migrants adapt quickly to an urban environment. Our results also reveal generational differences in recent and cumulative fertility. While migrants exhibit higher cumulative fertility than urban residents of the second and third generation, their fertility is significantly lower than rural averages in Ghana. Children of migrants exhibit childbearing patterns quite similar to those in higher-order generations. Most noteworthy is the nature of the disparities in childbearing patterns between migrants and the succeeding generations. Migrant women have higher lifetime fertility than urban natives. Migrant women also exhibit higher fertility over the last 5 years than second generation or high-order urban natives. But these first generation women exhibit lower fertility (vs. urban natives) for the year immediately prior to the survey. These patterns lend support to an interpretation that combines rather than opposes theories of selectivity, disruption, adaptation and socialization. We conclude by discussing mechanisms that might explain these interrelated processes of fertility adjustment and suggest that policies discouraging rural-urban migration need to be revisited.


development fertility Ghana urbanization longitudinal data 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael J. White
    • 1
    Email author
  • Eva Tagoe
    • 2
  • Catherine Stiff
    • 1
  • Kubaje Adazu
    • 1
  • Daniel Jordan Smith
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of SociologyBrown UniversityProvidenceUSA
  2. 2.University of Science and TechnologyKumasiGhana
  3. 3.Department of AnthropologyBrown UniversityProvidenceUSA

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