Sierra Leone 2015 Population and Housing Census - Thematic Report on Nuptiality and Fertility
This report considers nuptiality and fertility in Sierra Leone using data obtained from the 2015
Population and Housing Census. The objectives of the report included an analysis of the levels,
pattern and trends of the current and lifetime fertility and nuptiality in the country.
Various direct and indirect methods were used to analyse the data on both variables. Direct
methods include calculation of percentages, rates and ratios. Specific indirect methods used
were the Trussell P/F Ratio method and the Relational Gompertz methods (from the Bureau of
Census USA). These indirect techniques were used to assess and adjust the current fertility data
to minimize inaccuracies, such as poor reporting of births, which have resulted in very low fertility
indicators such as the reported total fertility rate.
The findings of this report suggest that levels of fertility have not changed much for 30 years. The total fertility rate is still in the region of six children per woman, the same rate as that recorded in the 1985 Census. The crude birth rate, the general fertility rate, the gross reproduction rate and the number of
children ever born have also remained roughly the same. The mean age at childbearing is in the region of 30 years. Marriage is a common phenomenon amongst both men and women, although more women are married than men.
Marital fertility is far higher than non-marital fertility. The reported fertility rate for currently married monogamous women is 3.1 children; women married in polygamous unions have 3.9 children, while the never married women have 0.24 children. These results suggest that the incidence of births outside marriage is low in Sierra Leone.
Sierra Leone’s Customary Marriage and Divorce Act states that girls cannot marry before 18 years of age. However the data suggests that the singulate mean age at marriage is less than 18 years across the country. This seems to indicate that the Act is not being implemented effectively.
Levels of fertility, as indicated by various fertility indices such as the total fertility rate and the mean number of children ever born, have barely fallen since the national census of 1985. This would seem to suggest that the social, cultural and economic supports of high fertility still exist and there is low contraceptive use.
Recommendations emerging from these analyses include a more effective implementation of the 2007 Customary Marriage and Divorce Act, through extensive educational programmes. Family planning programmes should also use similar strategies to increase the contraceptive prevalence rate, which will in turn contribute to a reduction in fertility levels.