Women's Education and Fertility: An Analysis of the Relationship between Education and Birth Spacing in Indonesia
The negative relationship between women's education and fertility is one of the strongest empirical regularities in social science, yet there are few empirical studies that identify the mechanisms through which education affects fertility. This article goes beyond the usual interpretation of education as a proxy for wage by testing whether education affects fertility through demand for children or through availability of contraceptives. Using the Indonesian case, it examines one aspect of fertility, namely, birth spacing, over the period 1970-93. I find that higher levels of female education are associated with a shorter birth interval among earlier cohorts but with a longer birth interval among later cohorts. The key finding is that changes in the effects of education on birth hazard over time are primarily driven by changes in the availability of contraceptives rather than by changes in the demand for children. In the context of contraceptive technology, the result can be interpreted as evidence for the hypothesis that education enhances the ability to decipher new information. (c) 2010 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.
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