Publication Title: Annals of the Association of American Geographers
Abstract: Fertility levels remain high in most of sub-Saharan Africa, despite recent declines, and even in a large capital city such as Accra, Ghana, women are having children at a pace that is well above replacement level and this will contribute to significant levels of future population growth in the city. Our purpose in this paper is to evaluate the way in which neighborhood context may shape reproductive behavior in Accra. In the process, we introduce several important innovations to the understanding of intra-urban fertility levels in a sub-saharan African city: (1) despite the near explosion of work on neighborhoods as a spatial unit of analysis, very little of this research has been conducted outside of the richer countries; (2) we characterize neighborhoods on the basis of local knowledge of what we call “vernacular neighborhoods;” (3) we then define what we call “organic neighborhoods” using a new clustering tool—the AMOEBA algorithm—to create these neighborhoods; and then (4) we evaluate and explain which of the neighborhood concepts has the largest measurable contextual effect on an individual woman’s reproductive behavior. Multi-level regression analysis suggests that vernacular neighborhoods are more influential on a woman’s decision to delay marriage, whereas the organic neighborhoods based on socioeconomic status better capture the factors that shape fertility decisions after marriage.