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The Impact of Women's Education on Fertility In Latin America: Searching for Explanations

Teresa Castro Martin and Fatima Juarez
International Family Planning Perspectives
Vol. 21, No. 2 (Jun., 1995), pp. 52-57+80
Published by: Guttmacher Institute
DOI: 10.2307/2133523
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2133523
Page Count: 7
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The Impact of Women's Education on Fertility In Latin America: Searching for Explanations
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Abstract

According to data from Demographic and Health Surveys for nine Latin American countries, women with no education have large families of 6-7 children, whereas better educated women have family sizes of 2-3 children, analogous to those of women in the developed world. Despite these wide differentials in actual fertility, desired family size is surprisingly homogeneous throughout the educational spectrum. While the least educated and the best educated women share the small family norm, the gap in contraceptive prevalence between the two groups ranges from 20-50 percentage points. Better educated women have broader knowledge, higher socioeconomic status and less fatalistic attitudes toward reproduction than do less educated women. Results of a regression analysis indicate that these cognitive, economic and attitudinal assets mediate the influence of schooling on reproductive behavior and partly explain the wide fertility gap between educational strata.

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