This paper examines the impact of women’s empowerment on fertility in the Tanzania context. It
studies both ideal and actual number of children born. Initial expectations are that more
empowered women are more able to adjust their actual level of fertility to their desired fertility.
My findings do not support this. In fact, I find that women’s empowerment -- defined in this
paper as domestic decision-making ability, being less exposed to domestic violence, and
education-- strongly reduces desired fertility level, but has a weaker effect on actual fertility and
could thus have a positive effect on the gap between the two. . The weaker effect of women’s
empowerment on actual fertility is very likely due to the limited accessibility to other important
resources, such as family planning services. To allow empowered women to actually reach their
desired fertility targets, there needs to be complementary public investments in family planning
Professional Paper in fulfillment of the Masters of Public Policy Degree
Women’s Empowerment and Fertility in Tanzania.
Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
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