The Role of Conflict in the Rapid Fertility Decline in Eritrea and Prospects for the Future



The large fertility decline observed in Eritrea between the mid-1990s and the early part of the new century is examined using data from two detailed national household surveys. Little evidence is found that this decrease infertility signals the beginning of a sustained decline. Rather, the results indicate that one of the outcomes of the military mobilization and displacement associated with the 1998–2000 border conflict with Ethiopia was a steep reduction in the proportion of women exposed to the risk of pregnancy. Part of this reduction was due to delayed age at marriage, but it came about largely because married women were less likely to be living with their husbands in 2002 than in 1995. Projections of the number of births that could occur if women implement their stated reproductive intentions and a postwar “baby boom” results show that the health system may be facing an increased demand for child health services over the next several years.