Determinants of High Marital Fertility in Malawi: Evidence from 2010 and 2015-16 Malawi Demographic and Health Surveys

Martin E. Palamuleni1, *
1 Population Studies and Demography Programme & Population and Health Research Entity, North-West University, Mmabatho, South Africa

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© 2023 Martin E. Palamuleni

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Population Studies and Demography Programme & Population and Health Research Entity, North-West University, Mmabatho, South Africa; Tel: +2783642409; E-mail:



Although the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) has declined from 5.7 in 2010 to 4.6 during 2015-16, fertility in Malawi remains high. The high fertility is responsible for the rapid population growth, which negatively impacts the social and economic development of the country. Available data show that nearly 90% of all births in the country occur among married women.


The main objective of the study is to investigate the determinants of fertility among married women (marital fertility) in Malawi.


This study used data extracted from the 2010 and 2015-16 Malawi demographic and health surveys. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were performed to examine the factors associated with fertility among married women.


The mean number of children born declined from 3.80 in 2010 to 3.44 in 2015. The background characteristics of the women were found to be accounted for the variation. Poisson regression analysis revealed that the age of respondent, place of residence, contraceptive use, age at first sex, age at marriage, age at birth, marriage duration, wanted last birth, ideal number of children, death of child and education were all factors significantly related to fertility.


These significant factors should be the focus of programs that aim to further reduce fertility in Malawi.

Keywords: Demographic and health survey, Family planning, Fertility, Total fertility rate, Malawi, Poisson regression.