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The causes of educational differences in fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa

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  • John Bongaarts

Abstract

This study first presents an analytic framework that describes the chain of causation linking fertility to its multiple layers of determinants. Next, this framework is applied to analyse the causes of educational fertility differences in 30 sub-Saharan African countries using data from DHS surveys. The results demonstrate that education levels are positively associated with demand for and use of contraception and negatively associated with fertility and desired family size. In addition, there are differences by level of education in the relationships between indicators. As education rises, fertility is lower at a given level of contraceptive use, contraceptive use is higher at a given level of demand, and demand is higher at a given level of desired family size. The most plausible explanations for these shifting relationships are that better-educated women marry later and less often, use contraception more effectively, have more knowledge about and access to contraception, have greater autonomy in reproductive decision-making, and are more motivated to implement demand because of the higher opportunity costs of unintended childbearing.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:vid:yearbk:v:8:y:2010:i:1:p:31-50
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    1. John B. Casterline & Steven W. Sinding, 2000. "Unmet Need for Family Planning in Developing Countries and Implications for Population Policy," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 26(4), pages 691-723, December.
    2. Jejeebhoy, Shireen J., 1995. "Women's Education, Autonomy, and Reproductive Behaviour: Experience from Developing Countries," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198290339, Decembrie.
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