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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2019 Feb 4. pii: 201717288. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1717288116. [Epub ahead of print]

Stalls in Africa's fertility decline partly result from disruptions in female education.

Author information

1
Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital (IIASA, VID/OeAW, WU), International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, 2361 Laxenburg, Austria.
2
Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital (IIASA, VID/OeAW, WU), International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, 2361 Laxenburg, Austria lutz@iiasa.ac.at.

Abstract

Population projections for sub-Saharan Africa have, over the past decade, been corrected upwards because in a number of countries, the earlier declining trends in fertility stalled around 2000. While most studies so far have focused on economic, political, or other factors around 2000, here we suggest that in addition to those period effects, the phenomenon also matched up with disruptions in the cohort trends of educational attainment of women after the postindependence economic and political turmoil. Disruptions likely resulted in a higher proportion of poorly educated women of childbearing age in the late 1990s and early 2000s than there would have been otherwise. In addition to the direct effects of education on lowering fertility, these less-educated female cohorts were also more vulnerable to adverse period effects around 2000. To explore this hypothesis, we combine individual-level data from Demographic and Health Surveys for 18 African countries with and without fertility stalls, thus creating a pooled dataset of more than two million births to some 670,000 women born from 1950 to 1995 by level of education. Statistical analyses indicate clear discontinuities in the improvement of educational attainment of subsequent cohorts of women and stronger sensitivity of less-educated women to period effects. We assess the magnitude of the effect of educational discontinuity through a comparison of the actual trends with counterfactual trends based on the assumption of no education stalls, resulting in up to half a child per woman less in 2010 and 13 million fewer live births over the 1995-2010 period.

KEYWORDS:

educational discontinuity; fertility; macro-economic crisis; population projections; sub-Saharan Africa

PMID:
30718411
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.1717288116
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Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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