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Downsizing

In every country surveyed by the DHS, women's views on `ideal family size' are changing. In almost half of the 20 nations for which data are available, women want at least one child fewer than they did 10 to 15 years ago.

The chart compares recent DHS findings with the World Fertility Surveys (WFS) of a decade or so earlier. Kenya shows the biggest change: in 1977, women said the ideal family size was 7.2 children; in 1993 the answer to the same question produced an average of 3.9.

Family planning does not seem to be keeping pace. In all but one of the 47 nations covered by the latest surveys, women say their desired number of children is less than today's average - usually by at least one child.

Women's views on ideal family size may reflect the expectations or pressures of husbands, family elders, and communities.

The ideal size
Desired number of children among currently married women aged 15-49

                      Years   
                    between      WFS      DHS
                    surveys  surveys  surveys
---------------------------------------------                    
Sub-Saharan Africa
Kenya                    15      7.2      3.9
Ghana                     8      6.1      5.5
Senegal                  15      8.4      6.3
Cameroon                 13      8.0      7.3

Asia, Middle East & North Africa
Egypt                    12      4.1     2.8
Thailand                 12      3.7     2.8
Sri Lanka                12      3.8     3.1
Philippines              15      4.4     3.5
Tunisia                  10      4.2     3.5
Morocco                  12      5.0     3.9
Pakistan                 16      4.2     4.1
Jordan                   15      6.3     4.4
Sudan                    11      6.4     5.9

Latin America & the Caribbean
Peru                     14      3.8     2.7
Colombia                 14      4.1     2.8
Trinidad/Tobago          10      3.8     3.1
Dominican Rep.           16      4.7     3.3
Ecuador                   7      4.2     3.4
Mexico                   10      4.5     4.2
Paraguay                 11      5.3     4.4
Source: DHS Program, Women's lives and experiences, 1994.


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