The value of children in African countries: insights from studies on infertility

J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol. 2007 Jun;28(2):69-77. doi: 10.1080/01674820701409959.


A number of studies have explored motives for parenthood in the Western industrialized world. These studies have documented that children are mostly desired for reasons relating to happiness and personal well-being. To date, limited data pertaining to parenthood motives in African countries exist. Insight into the value of children can, however, be derived from studies on infertility, as the negative repercussions of involuntary childlessness reflect the value of children to parents and the community. According to these studies children secure conjugal ties, offer social security, assist with labour, confer social status, secure rights of property and inheritance, provide continuity through re-incarnation and maintaining the family lineage, and satisfy emotional needs. Parenthood therefore appears to have more and, arguably, deeper roots in African communities when compared to industrialized countries.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Affect
  • Africa
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Family / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infertility, Female / ethnology*
  • Infertility, Female / psychology*
  • Infertility, Male / ethnology*
  • Infertility, Male / psychology*
  • Male
  • Parenting
  • Psychology
  • Social Class
  • Social Values*
  • Stereotyping*