Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Public Health and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research article

Differentials of fertility in North and South Gondar zones, northwest Ethiopia: A comparative cross-sectional study

Getu Degu Alene* and Alemayehu Worku

Author Affiliations

School of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Public Health 2008, 8:397  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-8-397

Published: 2 December 2008



Ethiopia is one of the most densely populated countries in Africa with an estimated population of 77.1 million in mid-2007. Uncontrolled fertility has adversely influenced the socio-economic, demographic and environmental situations of the country. It is one of the largest and poorest countries that, even in the midst of crisis, has maintained high levels of fertility. This study was aimed at investigating the most important factors influencing fertility behavior in Northwest Ethiopia.


A comparative cross-sectional study which included 2424 women aged 25 years and above was undertaken in the Amhara region of Northwest Ethiopia. The study subjects were grouped into high fertile and low fertile categories. There were 1011 and 1413 women in the high and low fertile groups, respectively. A multi-stage cluster sampling stratified by place of residence was employed to select the required study subjects. Both bivariate and multivariate logistic regression techniques were used to analyze the data.


Among the 25 variables considered in this study, only 9 of them were found significantly and independently associated with the level of fertility. Women with at least secondary education were at a lower risk of high fertility with OR = 0.37 (95% CI: 0.21 to 0.64) compared to those with no formal education. However, women with primary education did not show any significant difference when compared with the same baseline group. Age at first marriage was inversely associated with the number of children ever born alive. Place of residence, household expenditure, number of children who have died, attitude towards using contraceptives, women's knowledge on the safe period, and current marital status were the other variables that showed significant associations with the level of fertility.


Female education beyond the primary level, reduced infant and child mortality, delayed marriage and correct knowledge on the safe period during the menstrual cycle were amongst the main factors that had a bearing on high fertility.