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William G. Axinn photo

Mass Education and Fertility Transition

Publication Abstract

Axinn, William G., and Jennifer S. Barber. 2001. "Mass Education and Fertility Transition." American Sociological Review, 66(4): 481-505.

The relationship between the spread of mass education and fertility-limiting behavior is examined. Existing theories relating education to fertility limitation are integrated, including those relating the presence of educational opportunity to fertility decline, theories relating women's education to their fertility behavior and theories relating children's education to the fertility behavior of their parents. Using survey data from a sample of 5,271 residents of 171 neighborhoods in rural Nepal, the individual-level mechanisms linking community-level changes in educational opportunity to fertility behavior are tested. A woman's proximity to a school during childhood dramatically increases permanent contraceptive use in adulthood. This finding is largely independent of whether the woman subsequently attended school, whether her husband attended school, whether she lived near a school in adulthood, and whether she sent her children to school. Strong fertility limitation effects were also found for husband's education and for currently living near a school. These effects were independent of other education-related measures. The largest education-related effect is for sending children to school.

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