, Volume 51, Issue 6, pp 2229–2254 | Cite as

Impact of Migration on Fertility and Abortion: Evidence From the Household and Welfare Study of Accra

  • Slawa RokickiEmail author
  • Livia Montana
  • Günther Fink


Over the last few decades, total fertility rates, child morbidity, and child mortality rates have declined in most parts of sub-Saharan Africa. Among the most striking trends observed are the rapid rate of urbanization and the often remarkably large gaps in fertility between rural and urban areas. Although a large literature has highlighted the importance of migration and urbanization within countries’ demographic transitions, relatively little is known regarding the impact of migration on migrants’ reproductive health outcomes in general and abortion in particular. In this article, we use detailed pregnancy and migration histories collected as part of the Household and Welfare Study of Accra (HAWS) to examine the association between migration and pregnancy outcomes among women residing in the urban slums of Accra, Ghana. We find that the completed fertility patterns of lifetime Accra residents are remarkably similar to those of residents who migrated. Our results suggest that recent migrants have an increased risk of pregnancy but not an increased risk of live birth in the first years post-move compared with those who had never moved. This gap seems to be largely explained by an increased risk of miscarriage or abortion among recent migrants. Increasing access to contraceptives for recent migrants has the potential to reduce the incidence of unwanted pregnancies, lower the prevalence of unsafe abortion, and contribute to improved maternal health outcomes.


Migration Abortion Fertility Reproductive health Sub-Saharan Africa 



We are grateful to Allan Hill for the support of the project, as well as to Mark McGovern for his useful feedback and comments. This project was supported by Grant No. T32HS000055 from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. We would also like to thank Matthias Schündeln as well as the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation for the financial support for the HAWS project.

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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Health Policy, Evaluative Sciences and StatisticsHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Center for Population and Development StudiesHarvard School of Public HealthCambridgeUSA
  3. 3.Department of Global Health and PopulationHarvard School of Public HealthBostonUSA

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