Education and fertility in sub-Saharan Africa: individual and community effects

Demography. 2002 May;39(2):233-50. doi: 10.1353/dem.2002.0017.


Using data from Demographic and Health Surveys for 22 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, I show that the average educational level in a village or a community of a similar size has a significant depressing effect on a woman's birth rates, net of urbanization and her own education. According to simulations, average fertility for these countries would be 1.00 lower if education were expanded from the current level in the region to the relatively high level in Kenya. The exclusion of aggregate education from the model leaves a response of only 0.52. A considerable aggregate contribution is estimated even when several potential determinants of education are included. This finding illustrates the need to consider aggregate education in future assessments of the total impact of education.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Africa South of the Sahara / epidemiology
  • Birth Rate*
  • Data Collection
  • Educational Status*
  • Female
  • Fertility*
  • Humans
  • Monte Carlo Method
  • Rural Population
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Social Control, Informal
  • Urban Population