Fertility and the Education of African Parents and Children

Reducing poverty and improving equity
Sep 27, 2022 | National Bureau of Economic Research

Sub-Saharan Africa is the only UN region with a total fertility rate (TFR) of more than four children per woman, the result of later and slower fertility decline. Educational progress here has lagged other regions, such that the continent now comes last in educational attainment among prime-age adults. Using microdata from 33 African countries, this paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research sets out cohort patterns of fertility and education in Africa to provide new evidence on the extent to which these phenomena are linked. Tom Vogl suggests that fertility change displays a robust negative relationship with the educational outcomes of adult women but a more nuanced relationship with the educational outcomes of children. As fertility declines, children’s grade attainment rises, but their school enrollment does not.

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