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  • Onipede Wusu (a1) and Uche C. Isiugo-Abanihe (a2)

Most studies examining the association between female education and fertility have reported an inverse association. However, little is known about the consistency of the relationship, or what level of education triggers an inverse association. This study examined the consistency of the association between female education and fertility across the north–south demographic divide in Nigeria. Data on women aged 40–49 were taken from the 2003, 2008 and 2013 Nigerian DHS data sets. The results showed that female education remained significantly and consistently inversely related to fertility in both the north and south of Nigeria. Women with secondary or higher level of education reported a lower number of children ever born (CEB) than those with primary or no education in both the north and south (p<0.05). The findings suggest that female education has a more effective negative effect on fertility in the south, where the level of female schooling is higher, than in the north, with its limited level of female education. Primary-level female education appeared to be ineffective in reducing fertility in the study sample. Women with primary schooling reported a slightly higher CEB than those who did not have any formal education. Also, age at marriage and child mortality were found to be consistent and significant predictors of fertility in both the north and south (p<0.001). Women who married at relatively higher ages and those who had never lost a child reported a smaller CEB consistently in both the north and south (p<0.001). Therefore, to attain sustainable fertility decline throughout Nigeria, it is imperative that policies aimed at increasing the prevalence and quality of female education are pursued, and there must be a focus on social, physical, environmental and cultural factors influencing age at marriage and child mortality.

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Journal of Biosocial Science
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  • EISSN: 1469-7599
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