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Social gains from female education : a cross-national study


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  • Subbarao, Kalanidhi
  • Raney, Laura
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    The authors explore the strength of female secondary education relative to, and in combination with, family planning and health programs in reducing fertility and infant mortality. They find that family planning and health programs do influence fertility and mortality, but that the impact of expanding female secondary enrollments appears to be much greater, especially in countries with low female secondary enrollment. Fertility and infant mortality are more elastic with respect to female secondary education than to family planning and health programs. Their simulations suggest the following. Doubling female secondary school enrollment (from 19 to 38 percent) in 1975 would have reduced the total fertility rate in 1985 from 5.3 to 3.9. Doubling the family planning service score (from 25 to 50 percent) in 1982 would have reduced the total fertility rate only from 5.5 to 5.0. Doubling female secondary school enrollment in 1975 from 19 to 38 would have reduced the infant mortality rate from 81 to 38. Halving the ratio of population per physician would have reduced the infant mortality rate only from 85 to 81. Doubling per capita GDP from $650 to $1,300 would have reduced the infant mortality rate only from 98 to 92. Doubling female secondary school enrollment (from 19 to 38) in 1975 would have lowered the number of births by 29 percent of the 1985 number. Doubling family planning services would have reduced it by 3.5 percent. Doubling female secondary school enrollment would have reduced infant deaths by 64 percent. Halving the ratio of population per physician would have reduced it only by 2.5 percent. Doubling per capita GDP has no effect on reducing infant deaths, all other factors being constant. Female education affects desired family size by raising the opportunity cost of a woman's time in economic activities, increasing demand for family planning, and promoting more effective contraceptive use.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 1045.

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    Date of creation: 30 Nov 1992
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    Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1045

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    Keywords: Health Monitoring&Evaluation; Early Child and Children's Health; Adolescent Health; Agricultural Knowledge&Information Systems; Education and Society;


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    1. Rosenzweig, Mark R. & Schultz, T. Paul, 1987. "Fertility and Investments in Human Capital: Estimates of the Consequences of Imperfect Fertility Control in Malaysia," Bulletins, University of Minnesota, Economic Development Center 7513, University of Minnesota, Economic Development Center.
    2. Samuel H. Preston, 1980. "Causes and Consequences of Mortality Declines in Less Developed Countries during the Twentieth Century," NBER Chapters, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, in: Population and Economic Change in Developing Countries, pages 289-360 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Berhman, J.R., 1990. "The action of human resources and poverty on one another: what we have yet to learn," Papers, World Bank - Living Standards Measurement 74, World Bank - Living Standards Measurement.
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    Cited by:
    1. Borooah, Vani, 2003. "Births, Infants and Children: an Econometric Portrait of Women and Children in India," MPRA Paper 19620, University Library of Munich, Germany.


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