The role of intergenerational transfers, land, and education in fertility transition in rural Kenya: The case of Nyeri district

Karina M. Shreffler, F. Nii-Amoo Dodoo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations


This qualitative study reveals how population pressures, land availability, inheritance norms, and educational opportunities intertwine to influence fertility decline in rural Kenya. Focus group discussions with men and women whose childbearing occurred both before and after the onset of rapid, unexpected fertility transition in Nyeri, Kenya allowed individuals who actually participated in, or witnessed, the fertility transition to "voice" their perceptions as to the mechanisms underlying the transition. Findings suggest that, since land inheritance is a cultural norm, land scarcity and diminishing farm size often influence fertility decision-making and behavior via preferences for fewer children. Further, education does not appear to be the driving cause of fertility behavior change, but rather is adopted as a substitute for land inheritance when land resources are scarce. These findings have implications for our understanding of fertility behavior as well as for improving predictions of fertility transition in other rural sub-Saharan African contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-92
Number of pages18
JournalPopulation and Environment
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 25 Feb 2009
Externally publishedYes



  • Demographic transition
  • Education
  • Fertility
  • Intergenerational transfers
  • Kenya
  • Land
  • Sub-Saharan Africa

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