Vol. 8 No. 1 (2024)
Peer Reviewed Articles

Public Opinions about Causes of Declining Fertility in Developing Countries: Differences among Citizens in Sweden and Nigeria

Published 2023-12-20 — Updated on 2024-01-17


  • Demography,
  • Human Population,
  • Survey,
  • Questionnaire,
  • Norms,
  • Values
  • ...More

How to Cite

Götmark, Frank, and Wetzler Nordhild. 2024. “Public Opinions about Causes of Declining Fertility in Developing Countries: Differences Among Citizens in Sweden and Nigeria”. The Journal of Population and Sustainability 8 (1):13-34. https://doi.org/10.3197/JPS.63799953906874.


Research indicates multiple causes of declining total fertility rate (TFR) in developing countries, including reduced child mortality, improved education and economy, family planning programmes and female empowerment. However, public opinions about the causes have rarely been studied. Using surveys in 2022 in Sweden and Nigeria, we compare answers of educated citizens to the question of why fertility (birth rate) has fallen in developing countries (also in Nigeria). In Sweden, 72 per cent of respondents suggested improved living conditions, including economy and education, lower infant mortality and generally progressive development. In contrast, in Nigeria 66 per cent of the respondents suggested that poverty, bad socioeconomic conditions and poor health cause declining birth rates. Birth rates were thus assumed to be falling mainly because the conditions in Nigeria are generally getting worse, not better. A contributing reason for the difference of opinions between the countries may be social norms for large families in Nigeria. Few Swedish respondents suggested family planning (1.9% of answers) but this answer was more common in Nigeria (5.9%). In Sweden, women answered contraceptive use (17%) more often than did men (4.5%), while in Nigeria the contraception answer hardly differed between men (6.1%) and women (5.7%). Only minor differences in opinion existed between the southern and northern (Muslim-dominated) states in Nigeria, among educated respondents that participated in this survey. We recommend more, and extended surveys.


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