Non-Market Returns to Women Education in Sudan: Case of Fertility

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This paper examines the effect of parental education on fertility. The effect of income and child mortality on fertility in Sudan is also examined. Sudan is a predominantly rural economy, with an estimated population of 32.8 million in 2002, and a population density of 13 persons per squared kilometer. The crude birth and death rates are expressed per 1000 are estimated at 37.8 and 11.5, respectively (World Bank 2003), with a resulting natural population growth rate of 2.6% per annum, which may lead to doubling Sudan's population in less than 30 years. By all standards, the rates of fertility and population growth in Sudan are very high. This may be attributed to cultural factors that encourage high fertility and the spread of costs and benefits of children beyond the nuclear family to the extended family and the society at large. In particular, spreading of child cost across the extended family through child fostering, together with the communal land tenure system, work in favor of high fertility and large families. In addition, high child mortality and low levels of female schooling may cause high demand for children, and thereby high fertility, nevertheless completed fertility, as measured by the number of children ever born for women in the age group of 45-49 years, declined from 5.9 during the early 1990s to 4.97 in 2004.


Most of the studies found that women's education decrease fertility considerable. According to Easterlin (1983) education can affect fertility through the supply and demand for children, as well as through the cost of regulations. On the one hand, the supply of children is determined by natural fertility and the survival rate of children. Education affects the supply of children through three intervening variables: age at marriage, child mortality and breast feeding (Akmam 2002).

On the other hand, demand for children is affected by three sets of variables: first, direct economic costs and benefits of children, the costs related to time, income and wealth; second, preferences and norms; third, modernization, which has implications for all the other factors. With modernization, economic and time costs of children increase, the benefits decrease, and preferences and norms change (Akmam 2002). Females' education affects demand for children through the Desired Family Size, Economic, Time and Opportunity Costs of Children (Ainsworth, et al., 1996), Children as Old-Age Support: (Shapiro 1997) and Son Preference.

The economic benefits of educating girls are similar in size to those of educating boys but recent findings suggest that the social benefits from investing in females' education are far greater than those from investing in male education. Female education has powerful effects on the total fertility rate (and hence on population growth), United Nations (1995), Ainsworth, et al., (1996) and Murthi, et al, (1995).

Maglad (1993) used the micro economic model of household production to examine the determinants of fertility and factors affecting child mortality in Sudan. He found that wife's age and education, husband's education, and household's income, are important factors in explaining fertility and child mortality in Sudan. These factors explain more than 40% of the total variation in fertility for all women and above 50% of the variation in urban fertility. He observed that parental education affects demand for children negatively. In contrast to the Malthusian theory, Maglad (1993) found that fertility is negatively related to income. He argued that the income effect might have captured the price effect, reflecting the cost of children for parents with high income who desire high quality of children. Child mortality has a positive and significant effect on fertility, especially in rural areas.


The analysis of fertility behaviour will be based on the household production model. …


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