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Education as a Factor in Mortality Decline An Examination of Nigerian Data

J. C. Caldwell
Population Studies
Vol. 33, No. 3 (Nov., 1979), pp. 395-413
DOI: 10.2307/2173888
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2173888
Page Count: 19
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Education as a Factor in Mortality Decline An Examination of Nigerian Data
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Abstract

The debate between those who see economic development and those who regard advances in medical technology as bearing major responsibility for mortality decline usually gives little attention to different stages of social change when economic or medical conditions are fixed. However, Nigerian statistics analyzed here show that very different levels of child survivorship result from different levels of maternal education in an otherwise similar socio-economic context and when there is equal access to the use of medical facilities. Indeed, maternal education in Nigeria appears to be the single most powerful determinant of the level of child mortality. The statistics come from two surveys undertaken in 1973: one of 6,606 women in Ibadan city, and the other of 1,499 women in a large area of south-west Nigeria. Proportions of children surviving are compounded into an index of child mortality to increase the frequencies in individual cells and standardize maternal age when child survivorship is correlated with a range of factors, and two component indices are also constructed to detect change over time. It is concluded that women's education in societies like that of the Yoruba in Nigeria can produce profound changes in family structure and relationships, which in their turn may influence both mortality and fertility levels. Education may well play a major role in the demographic transition and this role may help to explain the close timing of mortality and fertility transitions.

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