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Education and population: spurious relationship



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[Topics under debate]: GOOD GOVERNANCE
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I'm glad that the fact that this relationship may indeed be spurious -- or
at least partly spurious -- has received attention in the debate. I have
actually studied this relationship quite widely, using data sets from over
40 World Fertility Surveys (done in the 1970s and 1980s). The fact is that
you find every kind of relation: positive, negative, U-shaped and
completely flat (no relationship). 

Hence, the mantra that the population problem will be solved by educating
women (heard much in World Bank policy circles inter alia) is, simply, not
true. Educating women won't hurt of course, and is commendable as a policy
in its own right, but it certainly isn't the most cost-effective way of
trying to lower fertility. Actually supplying reproductive-health
information and quality services to women in India would, in my opinion,
be the most cost-effective approach. 

If you want another spurious relationship, here's one: poor people in
India (and elsewhere) have children because of the economic benefits
they get from them (more children, more helping hands). The literature
(and my own research in India) doesn't bear this out, but it is still
widely believed -- sadly by many policy makers in influential positions.



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