Family size and sex preferences among women in Tanzania: a case study of Zanzibar

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University of Dar es Salaam
This study attempts to examine family size and sex preferences among ever married women at a micro level in the Zanzibar Islands of Tanzania. It is based on data of 1683 household members collected through a sample survey, which was carried out in Zanzibar (Unguja and Pemba) Islands in both rural and urban areas between July and September 1992. This study was part of a study aimed at investigating factors leading to low contraceptive prevalence and high dropout from family planning programs among women in Zanzibar. The main objective of this study was to establish the magnitude and level of family size and sex preference according to some selected demographic and socioeconomic variables. Of the demographic variables whose effects on family size and sex preference were considered were age and age at first marriage. Socio-economic variables that were considered include: education and place of residence. The data were taken from household interviews. The target population for this study was women who were ever married in the childbearing age (15-49 years), In total, 2U35 households were covered throughout the two Islands of Unguja and Pemba. Univariate, Bivariate and Multivariate analysis of the data were employed. This study is organised into four chapters the first one deals with background information to the problem, statement of the problem and significance of the study, conceptual framework and the hypotheses to be tested. Chapter two gives the methodological part of the study. Data presentation, interpretation and analysis is given in chapter three while chapter four presents the summary, concluson and recommendations for further research. The results from this study reveal that there were some significant variations in family size preference among women with respect to the demographic factor of age, but not age at first marriage. The median desired family size among women aged between 15-49 in Zanzibar is 7.0 children, Median desired family size was observed to increase from 6.0 children for the 15-1. 9 age group to 10.0 children for the 45-49 age graup. Of the the socio-economic groups considered, it was women in a rural setting, and those with no formal education, that expressed a desire for a relatively larger family size preference than their counterparts. A large family size (6-8 children) is the most desired family size among women in Zanzibar. Smaller family sizes are not favoured. There is very little association between demographic variables as well au socio-economic variables considered and sex preference, since a balanced sex distribution was mostly preferred; though son preference was dominant over preference for daughters. Among the outstanding and basic reasons listed as advantages for large family sizes and son preference included a need for heirs, old age security, demand for child labour and lineage.
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Family demography, Tanzania, Birth control
Barongereje, W.T. B (1993) Family size and sex preferences among women in Tanzania: a case study of Zanzibar, masters dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam. Available at (