Education and Fertility in India

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Helpdesk Query:

What evidence exists that draws links between secondary education (reproductive/child health/female empowerment) and reduced fertility in India, and more broadly in Bangladesh / Asia?


The report has sections on the following areas:

  1. Education and Fertility
  2. Education and Fertility in India and the Region
  3. Economic Returns to Women’s Education in India
  4. Education and Reproductive Health Initiatives
  5. Adolescent Reproductive Health Programmes

 In reviews of regional and global studies:

  • Women with primary education tend to have higher fertility than women with secondary–plus education, and women with no schooling tend to have higher fertility than women with primary education.
  • Women with a secondary education are much more likely to perceive that they have greater autonomy, which in turn leads to greater control of reproductive decisions.
  • In some of the least developed countries, basic education may have a positive effect on fertility, but the fertility enhancing impact of school has become increasingly rare.

In India-specific studies:

  • Female education has a negative and significant effect on the fertility rate, but there are complex routes to India’s demographic transition.
  • There is evidence to show that India’s fertility decline is now being driven by illiterate women.
  • However, education continues to be central to this decline.
  • A changed direction of causality must be considered: Fertility is also becoming driven by Educational decisions.



PDF - 362 KB

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