Colonial legacies, ethnicity and fertility decline in Kenya - What has financial inclusion got to do with it?

Maren Duvendack, Richard Palmer-Jones

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Kenya has seen unprecedented declines in fertility from the late 1970s, which stalled during the decade from the mid-1990s, only to resume in the early 2000s when Kenya experienced rapid growth in financial inclusion. In this paper, we do not intend to make causal explanations of these phenomena; instead, we explore what may be sensible to adduce from relationships between fertility and financial inclusion. The Kenyan context presents some unique challenges to establish such connections; regional geographic and ethnic differences, spatial and temporal uneven economic growth, diverse legacies of colonialism, all of which may have affected how fertility trends and financial inclusion activities played out. We find that while modernisation variables such as urbanisation, education, wealth and employment are convincingly related to lower fertility levels, there is little plausible evidence of a role for financial inclusion. More plausible explanations may be found in the country’s colonial history, ethnic identities and post-independence politics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1028–1058
Number of pages31
JournalEuropean Journal of Development Research
Issue number5
Early online date21 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023


  • Colonial legacies
  • Ethnicity
  • Fertility
  • Financial inclusion
  • Kenya

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