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Asia Pac Pop Policy. 1990 Dec;(15):1-3.

How female literacy affects fertility: the case of India.



Recent studies indicate that there is a direct correlation between increased literacy and decreased fertility. This link was demonstrated in study that covered 90% of India's population. Studies in other developing countries have confirmed this finding. In addition, high literacy rates have been found to correspond to high infant survival rates. Researchers also found that there was little change in the relationship between literacy and fertility when they were both controlled for different levels of urbanization. The problem is that only 1 in 4 Indian women are literate. However, India's government has a program in place the goal of which is to have universal literacy. In Kerala, female literacy is the highest (65%). And at 3.4 children/women, it has 1 of the lowest fertility rates. For the 14 states studied, the total fertility rate was 5.0 children/woman, the child mortality rate was 126/1000, and the female literacy rate was 22%. In contrast in Rajasthan where female literacy is 11% (the lowest of the 14 states studied) fertility is the highest at 6.0 children/woman. No state with higher than average fertility had higher than average female literacy rates. Literate women are likely to have more surviving children because they are more aware of good health practices, and they tend to live in better circumstances. As a result, couples need fewer births to reach their desired family size.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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