The purpose of this study was to identify the determinants of desire for more children among women in Ethiopia. A sample of 15,683 women were included from the 2016 EDHS data. The study found out that 65.5% of women desired more children. The odds of desire for more children among women 15–24 and 25–34 years age group was lower as compared to those women 35–49 years age group. The finding is in contrast with the other studies . Due to the increasing age of women in Ethiopia, it is necessary to develop a childbearing culture at the right time for couples, and couples are worried about childbearing at old ages.
Furthermore, the study revealed that having no education was positively associated with desire for more children at the multivariate analysis, suggesting that no education was associated with higher desire for more children compared to secondary and above education level. This finding is in line with the previous findings on this subject that higher education is associated with lower fertility desire . The possible explanation for this result may be that no educated women have enough time for childbearing. Furthermore, they indicated that education improves the ability of women to implement simple health knowledge and facilitates family planning methods and contraception use.
This study showed that women’s age at first marriage influenced desire for more children. Women in the age 15–24 years were more likely to desire for more children compared to those women whose age group 30–49 years. Desire for more children lowered when age at first marriage of the women increased. This finding is in line with previous studies that higher socio-demographic factors were associated with a lower desire for more children [1, 17]. This might be that early marriage is deeply rooted in religious and cultural traditions of Ethiopian communities and this usually results in the early marriage of children without their consent and letting them decide on their own.
In addition, the study showed that Muslim and Catholic religious women were more likely to desire for more children than other religious women. It could be that religion has an immense social, economic, and political significance in most societies, and thus plays an important role in sanctioning or promoting acceptance or creating resistance to family planning. This finding is in line with a study done in Nepal . The study showed that Orthodox religious women were more likely to desire more children compared to other religious women. However, it is contradicted with the finding of other studies in Kenya, and Tanzania that have shown that Christian women have less desire for more children than other religious women . The probable explanation religious tradition strongly influences the uptake of family planning, with a wide range of interpretations of most religious traditions (religious educations) affecting the perceived acceptability of government family planning programs.
The odds of desire for more children among women in Amhara, Oromia, Benishangul, SNNPR, Gambela and Harari regions were higher than women in the Dire Dawa region. This finding is in line with the other studies in Ethiopia . However, the odds of desire for more children among women in Afar, Somali, and Addis Ababa were lower than women in the Dire Dawa region. This finding is consistent with the results of EDHS 2016 . This might be due to culture, urbanization, and religious differences, as well as disparities in the implementation of desire for more children actions across different regions of Ethiopia.
The study showed that women with four or fewer ideal numbers of children were less likely to desire for more children. Women with four or fewer living children may be satisfied with their ideal number of children. The study shows that women with four or fewer living children were more likely to desire more children. This study was consistent with the other study. Women with four or fewer living children may be dissatisfied with their existing number of children. The study revealed that women who use contraceptives were less likely to desire for more children. This finding was consistent with previous studies [20,21,22]. The probable explanation is that women who are using contraceptives might not wish to give birth to additional children.
This study aimed to analyze the determinant factors on desire for more children, an indicator of behavior fertility in Ethiopia. To the best knowledge of researchers, few studies investigated desire for more children and the effects of different variables on that. It is worth mentioning that can be applied in future studies since the results of the current study were obtained based on a large representative sample and analyzed a lot of potential factors that determine desire for more children. The finding of this study can pave the way for policymakers to design and adopt fertility planning programs.
Strength and limitation of the study
The data were collected using standard and validated data collection tools, relatively large sample size, and nationally representative data. This helps to provide better representative data as all regions and administrative cities in the country. However, the limitation is the cross-sectional data does not show the cause-and-effect relationship between variables.