To What Extent Does the Fertility Rate Explain the Education Gap?
Posted: 11 Oct 2021
Date Written: October 6, 2021
The theory of Quantity-Quality (Q-Q) trade-off suggests that given the resource constraints in a household, an increase in family size would result in lower investments in human capital development of children. Following this theory, we investigate the role of fertility in explaining the educational gap between Muslims and Hindus in India. A historically large difference in the total fertility rates (TFR) between them, which is as high as 24% in 2015-16, may have contributed to the existing gap in education. Using decomposition techniques, we find that family size accounts for about 11% of the gap in years of schooling between high caste Hindus and Muslims. While examining the likelihood of completion of different levels of education, the contribution of family size increases with the level of education, rising to 15% for secondary education. Our estimates are robust to varied fixed effects and time-trends, which indicate that we do not have the supporting evidence to qualify the access to and quality of schools as potential reasons for the gap. While analysing the policy implications, our data reveals that the unmet needs for family planning of the Muslim women have been higher than Hindu women for both spacing (6.96% versus 5.26-5.46%) and limiting (9.58% versus 7.20-7.52%). Additionally, Hindu women have (72-73%) better access to modern methods of contraception than to Muslim women (61.3%). Hence, appropriate supply side measures addressing these needs should go a long way in reducing the fertility gap, with potential to reduce the education gap in due course.
Keywords: Fertility, Education, Muslim, Quantity-quality trade-off, Decomposition, India.
JEL Classification: I24, I25, J13, O15.
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