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J Biosoc Sci. 1994 Oct;26(4):553-8.

The impact of husband's and wife's education and occupation on family size in Zimbabwe.

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Department of Sociology, Kansas State University, Manhattan.


This paper assesses the impact of husband's and wife's education and occupation on family size in Zimbabwe. Results from the 1988 Male Fertility Survey indicate that husband's education had a strong negative effect, and wife's education had a moderate negative effect on the number of children ever born. Contrary to the literature, wives who were not employed had significantly fewer children than those who work in agriculture, and fewer, but not significantly, than those in non-agricultural occupations. Findings show the importance of husband's education and the changing dynamics of wife's occupation in fertility decline.


Analysis of data from the 1988 Male Fertility Survey in Zimbabwe among monogamous couples of reproductive age showed that children ever born was significantly and negatively affected by husband's education and only moderately affected by wife's education. Family size decreased among families where husbands and wives had more than a primary education. Husband's occupation had only a weak, nonsignificant influence on family size. With age excluded from the ordinary least squares models, husband's and wife's education continued to have the same effect, but wives engaged in nonagricultural employment behaved similarly to wives not employed. Women agricultural workers were not, as expected, like women not employed. Wives not employed had fewer children than women agricultural workers and women in nonagricultural employment. Differences were only significant between not employed women and agricultural workers. The role incompatibility hypothesis, which suggested that gender relations in the context of the status of women were an important factor in fertility decline, was not supported. Social development should focus on gender interactions rather than simply women's status. The study sample pertained only to the Shona speaking population, which comprised 80% of the total population of Zimbabwe. Model estimation was not affected by skewed data or multicolinearity.

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