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Educational Attainment Differences Between Population Groups In South Africa And The Timing And Number Of Births


  • Siv Gustafsson
  • Adriaan Kalwij
  • Seble Worku


From 1981 to 2005, the total fertility rate in South Africa has been reduced from an estimated level of 4.6 to 2.8 children per woman. The relative differences in the total fertility rate between population groups, however, remain large. Our empirical analysis of the determinants of the timing of births shows that better-educated women schedule birth later and have fewer children. The differences in education between population groups account for a substantive part (up to 40%) of the differences in completed fertility between the population groups. Our findings suggest that educational reforms aimed at equal access to education, which benefit African women most, may not only improve the quality of life of women but also, through their impact on fertility behaviour, yield long-run benefits, as they will have fewer children and more resources to invest in the next generation. Copyright (c) 2009 The Authors. Journal compilation (c) 2009 Economic Society of South Africa.

Suggested Citation

  • Siv Gustafsson & Adriaan Kalwij & Seble Worku, 2009. "Educational Attainment Differences Between Population Groups In South Africa And The Timing And Number Of Births," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 77(4), pages 471-487, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:sajeco:v:77:y:2009:i:4:p:471-487

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Thomas, Duncan, 1996. "Education across Generations in South Africa," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 330-334, May.
    2. Rosa Dias & Dorrit Posel, 2007. "Unemployment, Education and Skills Constraints in Post-Apartheid South Africa," Working Papers 07120, University of Cape Town, Development Policy Research Unit.
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