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The Relationship Between Women's Education and Fertility: Selected Findings From the World Fertility Surveys
Mary Beth Weinberger
International Family Planning Perspectives
Vol. 13, No. 2 (Jun., 1987), pp. 35-46
Published by: Guttmacher Institute
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2947826
Page Count: 12
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World Fertility Surveys carried out in 38 developing countries indicate that from two to 98 percent of married women of fertile age have had no schooling, while the proportion with 10 or more years of education ranges from zero to 24 percent. On average, women aged 25-29 have received about two years' more schooling than those aged 45-49. The surveys show an overall pattern of decreasing fertility with increasing education. In Sub-Saharan Africa, differences in fertility tend to be small, whereas in the other regions, they tend to be large. In about 40 percent of the countries, women with seven or more years of schooling have only half the level of current fertility of women with no education. In general, the magnitude and form of the relationship between desired family size and education does not correspond well with fertility differentials by educational level, even though both actual and desired fertility are lowest among women with the most schooling. Education, however, is positively associated with the likelihood that a woman will give a numerical answer when asked about desired family size. Examination of the proximate determinants of fertility--age at marriage, breastfeeding and contraceptive practice--reveals the ways in which educational levels affect these intermediate factors. With few exceptions, contraceptive practice and age at marriage increase with increased education. Averaged over all countries, the singulate mean age at marriage for women with seven or more years of education is almost four years higher than that of women with no education; and the difference in contraceptive prevalence between women with no education and those with seven or more years of schooling is 24 percentage points. Tentative evidence indicates that family planning programs can reduce the size of educational differentials in contraceptive use by speeding the diffusion of contraceptive practice.
International Family Planning Perspectives © 1987 Guttmacher Institute