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Women's Education, Autonomy, and Reproductive Behaviour: Experience from Developing Countries

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  • Jejeebhoy, Shireen J.
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    Abstract

    Women's access to education has been recognized as a fundamental right. At the national level, educating women results in improved productivity, income, and economic development, as well as a better quality of life, notably a healthier and better nourished population. It is important for all kinds of demographic behaviour, affecting mortality, health, fertility, and contraception, The personal benefits that women attach to education vary widely according to region, culture, and level of devlopment, but it is clear that educaiton empowers women, providing them with increased autonomy and resulting in almost every context in fewer children. Beyond these few general assertions, however, there is little consensus on such issues as how much education is required before changes in autonomy or reproductive behaviour occur; whether the education-autonomy relationship exists in all cultural contexts, at all times, and at all levels of development; and which aspects of autonomy are important in the relationship between education and fertility. It is in the need to address these fundamental issues that this book took shape. The author reviews the considerable evidence about education and fertility in the developing world that has emerged over the last twenty years, and then passes beyond the limits of previous studies to address three major questions: BL Does increased education always lead to a decrease in the number of children, or is there a threshold level of education that a woman must achieve before this inverse relationship becomes apparent? BL What are the critical pathways influencing the relationship of women's education to fertility? Is fertility affected because education leads to changes in the duration of breast-feeding? Because it raises the age at marriage? Because it increases the practice of contraception? Or because education reduces women's preferences for large numbers of children? BL Do improvements in education empower women in other areas of life, such as their improving exposure to information, decision-making, control of resources, or confidence in dealing with family and the outside world? Supported by full documentation of the available survey data, this study concludes that such contextual factors as the overall level of socio-economic development and the situation of women in traditional kinship structures complicate the general assumptions about the interrelationships between education, fertility, and female autonomy. It lays out the policy implications of these findings and fruitful directions for future research.

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    This book is provided by Oxford University Press in its series OUP Catalogue with number 9780198290339 and published in 1995.

    ISBN: 9780198290339
    Order: http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780198290339.do
    Handle: RePEc:oxp:obooks:9780198290339

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    Cited by:
    1. Laurie Derose & Øystein Kravdal, 2007. "Educational reversals and first-birth timing in sub-saharan africa: A dynamic multilevel approach," Demography, Springer, vol. 44(1), pages 59-77, February.
    2. Chowdury, Sadia & Vergeer, Petra & Schmidt, Harald & Barroy, Helene & Bishai, David & Halpern, Scott, 2013. "Economics and Ethics of Results-Based Financing for Family Planning: Evidence and Policy Implications," Health, Nutrition and Population (HNP) Discussion Paper Series 84663, The World Bank.
    3. Luigi Maria Solivetti & Alessandra Mirone, 2014. "Learning for Life: A Cross-National Analysis Comparing Education with Other Determinants of Infant Mortality," Working Papers 3/14, Sapienza University of Rome, DISS.
    4. Vikram, Kriti & Vanneman, Reeve & Desai, Sonalde, 2012. "Linkages between maternal education and childhood immunization in India," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 331-339.
    5. Victor Agadjanian & Ndola Prata, 2002. "War, peace, and fertility in Angola," Demography, Springer, vol. 39(2), pages 215-231, May.
    6. Riikka Shemeikka & Veijo Notkola & Harri Siiskonen, 2005. "Fertility decline in North-Central Namibia," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 13(4), pages 83-116, August.
    7. Emilio Parrado, 2011. "How High is Hispanic/Mexican Fertility in the United States? Immigration and Tempo Considerations," Demography, Springer, vol. 48(3), pages 1059-1080, August.
    8. John Bongaarts, 2010. "The causes of educational differences in fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa," Vienna Yearbook of Population Research, Vienna Institute of Demography (VID) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna, vol. 8(1), pages 31-50.
    9. Bongoh Kye & Erika Arenas & Graciela Teruel & Luis Rubalcava, 2014. "Education, Elderly Health, and Differential Population Aging in South Korea: A Demographic Approach," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 30(26), pages 753-794, March.
    10. Paul, Sohini, 2014. "Women labour force participation and domestic violence: Evidence from India," MPRA Paper 55311, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Basu, Alaka Malwade, 2002. "Why does Education Lead to Lower Fertility? A Critical Review of Some of the Possibilities," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 30(10), pages 1779-1790, October.
    12. Maddox, Bryan, 2007. "Worlds Apart? Ethnographic Reflections on "Effective Literacy" and Intrahousehold Externalities," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 532-541, March.

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