Universal basic education in Nigeria: Matters arising

Abstract:

Empirical studies based generally point to a robust, negative association between female education and fertility (see Schultz, 1994; Schultz, 1997; Ainsworth et al, 1996). Citing this evidence, policymakers have advocated educating girls and young women as a means to achieve lower rates of population growth, and thus for sustained economic and social welfare in developing countries. This paper uses an unusual policy experiment from Nigeria to investigate the impact of female education on early fertility decisions. Our results suggest that changes in schooling costs and other policy variables associated with universal education policies can have a substantial impact on female education and early fertility. We provide evidence that female education has a strong, negative association with early fertility even after accounting for the possible endogeneity of the schooling decision. We also consider alternative explanations for the rapid advances in female schooling and demographic outcomes including changes in social norms and attitudes towards female education and economic opportunities for women