Poverty and household/family size in Tanzania: multiple responses to population pressure?

Type Report
Title Poverty and household/family size in Tanzania: multiple responses to population pressure?
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2000
Page numbers 0-0
Publisher Research on Poverty Alleviation
Country/State Tanzania
URL http://www.repoa.or.tz/documents/Research_Report_004.pdf
In population/development terms poverty is viewed as being associated with higher family/household size. In a 1996 survey of rural Bukoba District, Tanzania, for sources of poverty by Kamuzora and Gwalema (1998), two findings were made, prompting further study. One was that poverty level seemed to decrease with higher household size and number of children. Two, a significant majority of men and women of reproductive age reported having two or more children beyond what they desired, and despite complaining of rising child costs, only less than 19 and 30 percent respectively, were using methods of fertility regulation.
These observations raise a fundamental question on how people respond to population pressure. Are there response mechanisms different from limiting fertility, thus enabling high population levels with less poverty? Could it be a life cycle process of by accumulation of wealth also creates a bigger family overtime? literature survey was done on these issues on the basis of which a survey was conducted in 1998 in the same villages as those of 1996.
Findings, corroborated by the nationwide 1996 Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey, ascertain, at high statistical significance, a pattern of less poverty with higher family/household size. Explanations, also statistically significant are that in a labour intensive socio-economy it is households that have more labour that are less poor. On the issue of population pressure it creates out-migration, postponement of marriage, and some form of family limitation. However in more developed regions such as Kilimanjaro that had gone through these responses, compared to Lindi/Mtwara Regions, the less poverty pattern no longer holds.
The interpretation is that there is a life cycle process of accumulation of wealth leading to increased household/family size while at the same time accommodating changes due to modernisation as in the case of Kilimanjaro region. The population/development debate and programmes should thus be focussed on helping people spacing children rather than determining the number of children for them.
However, the paradox still remains as to why high proportions of bigger households are still in the poor category. This and other limitations need further study.

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