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Nigeria appears to be experiencing a transition to lower fertility. Based on ethnographic research, this article shows how Nigerians navigate a paradoxical political-economic and cultural context, wherein they face powerful pressures both to limit their fertility and to have relatively large families. The main argument advanced here is that Nigerians' fertility behavior must be understood in the context of the ways that parenthood, children, family, and kinship are inextricably intertwined with how people survive in a political economy organized around patron-clientism. Despite the fact that fertility transition is widely associated with broad processes of modernization and development, ordinary Nigerians experience the pressures to limit fertility in terms of a failed economy, development disappointments, and personal hardship–even while they see relatively smaller families as essential if they are to educate their children properly and adapt to a changing society.