Education and Childlessness in India

By Thomas Baudin, Koyel Sarkar

Women in the developing country of India have started on the long road to emancipation, at both the family and societal levels. In this context, we study what may be perceived as a key sign of emancipation regarding marriage and motherhood: childlessness. Using micro-level regressions, we show that a woman’s probability of ending her reproductive life without children exhibits a U-shaped relationship with her educational attainment. This indicates that poverty and sterility are not the sole determinants of childlessness and that better economic opportunities and empowerment within couples also matter. This result is robust to the introduction of important control variables, such as the development level of the state where women live, the husband’s education, age at marriage, religion, and caste. India appears to be joining a list of countries whose adjustments to childlessness go far beyond simply responding to boom-and-bust poverty.

  • childlessness
  • education
  • poverty
  • sterility
  • development
  • India
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