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Literacy, Education, and Fertility, Past and Present: A Critical Review

Harvey J. Graff
Population and Development Review
Vol. 5, No. 1 (Mar., 1979), pp. 105-140
Published by: Population Council
DOI: 10.2307/1972320
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1972320
Page Count: 36
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Literacy, Education, and Fertility, Past and Present: A Critical Review
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Abstract

Although the explanation and interpretation of demographic events and changes in general and of fertility in particular remains unsatisfactory and contentious--in both contemporary and historical research--the literature exhibits an apparent consensus on the relationship between education/literacy and fertility. Critical review and comparison, however, reveal this widespread agreement to be superficial and illusory. Conceptualization of the role of education and literacy is highly problematic, and empirical results are weak, often contradictory. Normative assumptions and expectations and the high valuation of the assumed impact of education/literacy permeate contemporary and historical analyses of fertility; moreover, they typically combine to obstruct understanding and more sensitive conceptualization.

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