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Women's Education and Fertility: A Decade of Change in Four Latin American Countries

Mary Beth Weinberger, Cynthia Lloyd and Ann Klimas Blanc
International Family Planning Perspectives
Vol. 15, No. 1 (Mar., 1989), pp. 4-14+28
Published by: Guttmacher Institute
DOI: 10.2307/2133273
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2133273
Page Count: 12
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Women's Education and Fertility: A Decade of Change in Four Latin American Countries
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Abstract

New survey data show that there has been a rapid fertility decline in four Latin American countries. Furthermore, in three of the four (Colombia, the Dominican Republic and Ecuador), the gap in fertility between educated and uneducated women, which had been very wide during the 1970s, has begun to narrow. However, educational differentials in fertility remain substantial, particularly in Peru, where the educational differential has remained as overall fertility has declined. Women of reproductive age in these four countries have completed 6-7 years of schooling, on average, although the proportion of women with no education or with only a few (1-3) years ranges from 23-31 percent. As well as having lower fertility and desiring smaller families, women with more education generally marry later and are more likely to practice contraception than are less-educated women. In all four countries, women's educational attainment has been rising rapidly enough that the increase in the proportion of more highly educated women has by itself been an important cause of fertility decline. Improvements in education alone would explain 40-67 percent of the fertility decline if there had been no change in behavior within the education groups. At the same time, fertility declines within education groups have been large, and in three of the four countries have contributed over half of the observed fertility decline. In addition, contraceptive use increased substantially within education categories, while desired family size appears to have fallen. There has also been a trend within education groups toward earlier or more universal marriage, an unexpected finding.

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