Education and Fertility Revisited: A Multilevel Study in Today’s High Fertility World

Regina Fuchs, Wittgenstein Centre (IIASA, VID/ÖAW, WU)

Education plays a multidimensional role in the process of the fertility transition. This study tries to assess the impact of education on fertility outcomes relative to economic factors, gender equality, family planning efforts and child mortality, using data from the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) from 2003 to 2009 in Sub-Saharan Africa. Education and especially educating women does not only have a direct impact on the desired number of children, but also influences most supply and demand factors of fertility. Employing multilevel modeling techniques allows identifying individual effects and contextual effects; this approach specifically considers effects from living in a better educated or wealthier community in addition to individual education or endowments. Model outcomes show consistently stronger results for education than income at the individual and community level. In particular, living in a community with primarily higher educated women substantially decreases women’s desired number of children.

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Presented in Session 25: Family Formation in Comparative-Historical Perspective