The implications of reproductive politics for religious competition in Niger

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


"FERTIIITY DIFFERENCES by religion in West Africa, when they occur," Jennifer Johnson-Hanks writes, "are neither a stable effect of the muslim religion nor a straightforward consequence of economics but, rather, the result of an interaction between the two. We must conclude that social context and national politics mediate the association between religious affliation and reproductive practice."1 in her thoughtprovoking comparative statistical analysis of fertility and mortality rates by religion across West Africa, Johnson-Hanks goes on to argue that fertility patterns have less to do with religion directly than with the effects of belonging to a minority, the members of which are systematically disadvantaged economically. She convincingly demonstrates that when education and residence are taken into account, it is not clear that muslims have the high fertility rates so often attributed to them in polemics about the rise of fundamentalism, muslim male unemployment, and the coming anarchy. on the other hand, in national contexts in which muslims are an economically disadvantaged minority, their "demographic metabolism" is more rapid than that of the majority population: both fertility and mortality rates are relatively high. Johnson-Hanks argues that "reproductive rates are social products, are the result of a variety of forms of cultural practice, and are deeply embedded in local politics."2 there is, she notes, "no single, coherent muslim reproductive pattern: the real story is local."3.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationChristianity and Public Culture in Africa
PublisherOhio University Press
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)9780821419458
StatePublished - Dec 1 2011


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences(all)

Cite this

Cooper, B. M. (2011). The implications of reproductive politics for religious competition in Niger. In Christianity and Public Culture in Africa (pp. 89-108). Ohio University Press.