Birth Rate or fertility rate is the number of births per 1000 of the population. The birth rate is a measure of fertility.

The physiological capacity of a woman to conceive and give birth to a child, regardless of whether it is a live birth or a stillbirth, is called fecundity.

Lack of fecundity is called infecundity or sterility.

Infertility, on the other hand, refers to the inability of a woman to bear a child and this includes those who cannot give live birth to a live baby. Infertility can be primary or secondary.

Primary infertility is also referred to as involuntary childlessness.

Secondary infertility can be involuntary. For instance, a woman has had two children and is now unable to have more due to biological or health factors.

It is called secondary since it is caused by a second factor after the previous births.

factors affecting birth rate

family planning

There are various family planning programmes which are helping people to have a fewer number of children.

Mainly these programmes educate women on the advantages of having fewer children.

These programmes help to reduce birth rates.

The most targeted areas in Zimbabwe are the communal areas where women have since been taught about the importance of family planning.

religious beliefs

Did you know that some religions do not allow the use of contraceptives (family planning pills, condoms, and other methods of birth control.) and abortion?

They believe that children are a gift from God so people should not worry about having many children.

Most white garment churches encourage their members to marry and have more children.

Some even encourage their members not to worry if they happen to lose a child as they believe that God will give them another child.

need of male child

In most African societies it is very important to have a male child as he will bear the family name.

All the wealth is supposed to be left in his name upon the death of his father. Wealth and the family name are supposed to be passed down from generation to generation.

So, there is a need for a male child.

average age of marriage

People who get married early tend to have quite a number of children thereby increasing birth rates.

Children get married at a tender age especially girls usually between the ages of 12 and 18 years.

This usually happens when a girl gets impregnated by an older man who would have promised.

With a lack of education, the young girls would have more children.

children as the source of labour and security

Having a child is more important in most societies as children are seen as a source of labour and security.

When we say labour, we mean to say that children are there to help in the fields and do most of the household chores.

So, if a family has quite a number of children then it means all the work will be easy to manage with no time.

Security means that parents have children that will take care of them in their old ages and also provide for their needs.

symbol of greatness

Some people believe that having children is a symbol of greatness.

This means that having children is a great achievement and other people will respect and honour you.

The patriarchal societies of Africa consider having more children as a symbol of greatness.

Respect is earned with the number of children a man has.

This, therefore, leads men to have more wives in order to have more children.

level of freedom of women

natalistic policies

develpment of secondary and tertiary economy

level of education

cost of living

infant mortality



The following are Factors favoring high population growth rate in Africa:

  • Limited use of family planning methods.
  • Many people don’t use family planning methods that’s why end up with many children. This leads to high population growth rate. 
  • Decrease in death rate: There is improvement in the general levels of living, improvement in level of education of people, and improvement in the health services with increase in the number of hospitals, dispensaries and health centers, increase on the number of Doctors and nurses and other health personnel hence decrease in death rate leading to rapid growth of population. 
  • Old-age insurance: Children are considered as insurance for a good life in old ages by their parents, for that they produce more children in order to insure themselves.  

  • High infant mortality rate: Parents produce many children in Africa because of not being sure of the number of children who can survive. To avoid unwanted surprises they produce more, some die and other survive.  
  • Cultural believes for large families: Children are sources of prestige in some societies. Many people produce many children for prestigious reasons.  
  • Early marriage: Women marry at a younger age leading to a longer fertility period and more children are produced leading to rapid growth of population.
  • Religion. Some religions preach to people not to use family planning methods to avoid unwanted pregnancies. Not using family planning results into unwanted pregnancies that lead to rapid growth of population.

causes of high death rate in Africa:

  • Insufficient health facilities like hospitals, health centers and dispensaries with enough care
  • There is rapid increase in population but social services and infrastructures have not increased to match the population growth
  • Political instability and insecurity. Many countries of Africa are engaged into war and insecurity is common in those countries hence loss of lives which lead to decrease on the number of population. Example of some countries of Africa includes Sudan, DRCongo, Maghreb, etc.
  • Low levels of Immunization. Children get infected with infant killer diseases leading to increase in the death rate of young children.
  • Poverty, Many people die because cannot afford to buy requirements of life like drugs and food. The cost of life is high than the revenue of many African people living under poverty.

  • Ignorance. Lack of enough information on health care like reproductive health that leads to death of many people.