ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Women’s Education and Fertility in the Hindi Heartland

Using evidences from the Sample Registration System and the third and fourth rounds of the National Family Health Survey, this article shows that the fertility rate continues to be high in the Hindi heartland of the country, and that too among educated women. It also proposes some plausible hypotheses in this regard, which would require validation through further research.

The authors gratefully acknowledge the comments by Faujdar Ram, P M Kulkarni, and Zakir Husain on an initial draft of this article.

India has been witnessing fertility transition over the last three decades. This transition has covered all regions and sections of the society during the last decade, though at varying degrees (Registrar General of India 2011). Although all the southern states and most of the western, north-western and few eastern states have already achieved below-replacement-level fertility (total fertility rate or TFR <=2.1), fertility rates continued to be high in the Hindi-speaking regions of northern and north-central India.

Studies using unit-level data from various large-scale surveys have found that women’s education has significant net negative effect on fertility even after controlling for the effects of other potentially confounding variables (Bhat 1996, 2002; Ghosh 2016). Studies have also observed the “indirect” role of education through channels like diffusion of fertility norms from the educated to non-educated through social learning and social imitation, and other positive externalities regarding changing community behaviour as a whole (Arokiasamy et al 2004). Later studies emphasised positive contribution of education on fertility decline due to the improvement of the health of women and children (Arokiasamy 2009).

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Updated On : 29th Jun, 2020
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