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Primary education and fertility rates: Evidence from Southern Africa

Manoel Bittencourt

The Economics of Transition, 2018, vol. 26, issue 2, 283-302

Abstract: Unified growth theory advances that the transition from a Malthusian regime to sustained economic growth is characterized by technological progress and, amongst other things, by an increase in demand for human capital which in turn creates incentives for lower fertility rates. Bearing that in mind, I ask the question: has southern Africa escaped the Malthusian stagnation? Specifically, I study whether primary school completion rates have played any role in total fertility rates in all countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) during the 1980–2009 period. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the results, based on dynamic panel time‐series methods, suggest that primary education is associated with lower fertility in the SADC, or that the community is already trading‐off quantity for quality of children. Although I do not claim causality, overall the results are significant because, in accordance with unified growth theory, they suggest that the SADC is experiencing its own transition from the Malthusian stagnation epoch into sustained growth, or that the SADC is going through its own post‐Malthusian regime.

Date: 2018
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