Discussion Paper no. 03-11


There is a strong theoretical and empirical relationship between educational attainment and fertility behaviour. However, a fundamental question that has largely been neglected is the change in this relationship across cohorts resulting from differential improvement in educational opportunities for women over time and how it relates to fertility transition. Utilizing the 1998 DHS data from Kenya this study examines the differential effect of educational attainment on women’s use of modern contraception and desire for cessation of childbearing across generations. The findings indicate that even after controlling for husband’s education and other relevant factors, a woman’s advanced education is positively associated with use of modern contraception. However, support for a similar hypothesis on a woman’s desire for family limitation was only found among the youngest cohort of women. The results suggest that for Kenya’s incipient fertility transition to be sustained the government needs to continue efforts to improve female education and supporting access to family planning among younger women.