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Education has long been recognized as a crucial factor influencing women’s childbearing patterns; an extensive demographic literature is devoted to examining the role of female education in promoting sustained fertility decline. • A women’s educational level is the best predictor of how many children she will have, according to a new study from the National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study, based on an analysis of 1994 birth certificates, found a direct relationship between years of education and birth rates, with the highest birth rates among women with the lowest educational attainment. • Among women in their twenties – the peak childbearing ages – and women in their forties, birth rates are highest for women with the least education. • First birth rates for women in their thirties with a college degree were two to five times the first birth rates for women with less education. • Women with college degrees can be expected to complete their childbearing with 1. -2. 0 children each; For women with less education the total expected number of children are: 3. 2 children for those with 0-8 years of education; 2. 3 children for those with 9-11 years of education and 2. 7 for high school graduates. • Education Attainment of girls and women. Education attainment, the combined primary, secondary, and tertiary gross enrollment ratio, is the number of students enrolled in a level of education, regardless of age, as a percentage of the population of official school age for that level.

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This is a combined enrollment rate where primary education is the first level where the main function is to provide basic elements of education, • secondary education is based on at least four years previous instruction at the primary level providing both general and/or specialized instruction, and tertiary education is the third level requiring a minimum criteria for admission, such as universities, teachers colleges, and higher professional schools (UNDP, 1995) • greater education attainment leads to greater contraception prevalence for a nation in India, “a 10 per cent increase in the female literacy rate seems to be associated with a 0. 5 decline in total fertility rate” . If this were true, in order to reduce fertility, it would be necessary to “arrange for 80 per cent female literacy. ” Female Education and Demand for Children Female education has an impact on the demand for children via these variables: (1) Desired family size; (2) Son preference; (3) Labour contributions of offspring during childhood; (4) Children as old age support; (5) Children as sources of prestige; and (6) Economic, time and opportunity costs of raising children [(8) P: 12].

Desired Family Size: With education, women become much less fatalistic regarding their family size. As Cochrane [(7) P: 104-5] notes in a study of fertility in Nigeria, only 10 per cent of the women with education beyond the primary stage believed fertility to beedetermined by God’, whereas 50 per cent of the totally uneducated women held that belief. In most research studies it has been found that desired family size becomes smaller with the increase in women’s educational levels

Son Preference: In gender-stratified societies, as in South Asia, son preference is a common feature. If a couple desires to have two living sons, they will end up having 3. 9 children on an average. If parents want at least one daughter and one son, the average would turn out to be 3. Thus son preference increases the family size significantly in the long run. finds that in Bangladesh son preference is so strong that even education above primary level cannot counteract it. Very high levels of education are required in order to counter the preference for sons in such societies.

The higher education of women, through providing them self reliance, social and economic autonomy, probably will have a negative impact on son preference Children as Old Age Support: One of the perceived benefits of children is as providing a means of support in old age. With increasing levels of education, women tend to rely less on their children for support in old age and for economic help and housing. As the level of education of women increases, they are more likely to depend on other types of resources (such as personal savings) rather than relying solely on their children. men’s education affects the extent to which children are perceived as sources of support in old age through social and economic autonomy and self-reliance. • According to data from Demographic and Health Surveys for nine Latin American countries, women with no education have large families of 6-7 children, whereas better educated women have family sizes of 2-3 children, • We can assume that these three dimensions of education have an impact on women’s reproductive desires and behavior.

First, the impact of knowledge on fertility is clear in that literacy conditions access to information and is therefore instrumental to informed fertility choices. It is illusory to think that women can gain control over their fertility without learning first about their bodies in relation to sex, reproduction and health. The knowledge schooling imparts in these areas, even if marginal in the formal curriculum, may be crucial to the successful use of contraception. • According to earlier comparative studies, Latin America stands out as the region where the education-fertility relationship is strongest.

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