Can Female Education Explain Fertility Decline?

Juliana Jaramillo, Central Bank of Colombia

Across the world educated women tend to have fewer children than their less-educated peers. This paper provides new stylised facts about the long-run relationship between women's education and fertility at the national, sub-national, and individual levels. I focus on Colombia, a country that experienced both a rapid fertility decline and fast expansion of education in the mid-20\textsuperscript{th} century. I use individual-level data from the 10\% samples of the censuses of 1973, 1985, 1993 and 2005 from IPUMS. The findings caution that the relationship between fertility and women's education is not always monotonic and that this relationship changes significantly depending on the level of aggregation of the data. At the individual level, the relationship between education and fertility holds strongly and education increases the probability of remaining childless, reduces the total number of children and reduces the likelihood of having a birth at a younger age, suggesting a strong trade-off between care and work. Peer effects, such as the percentage of peers with secondary education, are ruled out, which means that the externalities of education had a moderate effect on uneducated women. On the other hand, at the national and sub-national level, the fertility decline cannot be explained by education as fertility fell continuously in all educational groups since 1965.

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 Presented in Session 86. Unveiling the Dynamics of Women's Lives: Property Rights, Education, and Work in the Transformation of Fertility Patterns