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Men, Marriage, and Ideal Family Size in Francophone Africa


Speizer, Ilene S. (1999). Men, Marriage, and Ideal Family Size in Francophone Africa. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 30(1), 17-34.


This article reconsiders male survey questions and methods to make them appropriate to sub-Saharan African men's unique family roles and multiple relationships. This paper extends previous research on marriage and fertility of Francophone African men in two ways. First, it will confirm the existence of the three marriage categories in other Francophone African countries where data are available. Second, it apples the marriage trichotomy as an independent variable in analyses of men's ideal family size reports. Ideal family size is used as a proxy for fertility desires because it should include children born in union as well as children born outside of unions, or children from previous unions. The marriage analyses illustrate that the important distinctions between the two groups of currently monogamous men are not simply age or wealth related, but rather are ideologically and educationally based. Consequently, the study demonstrated that the usual procedure of grouping all currently monogamous men together may result in an underestimation of differences between monogamous and polygynous men. Additionally, the comparison of the potentially polygynous and currently polygynous men indicates that in many ways, the potentially polygynous men are simply younger and poorer than the currently polygynous men.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Journal of Comparative Family Studies


Speizer, Ilene S.