In reducing fertility, a little education may be worse than none, shows data

  1. According to conventional wisdom,the higher the educational level of a woman, the lower the total number of children she will have.
  2. However,the official data on the total fertility rate(TFR) or the average number of children born to a woman over her lifetime shows the connection may be more complex. 
  3. The data shows that the culture of a state might be a greater determinant of fertility with illiterate rural women in Tamil Nadu having a lower fertility rate than urban graduates in Uttar Pradesh.
  4. Further,the data also shows a consistent pattern across states of illiterate women and those with no formal education having lower fertility rates than those with below primary level education.
  5. For instance,Bihar which is a high fertility state,the TFR of women who have not completed primary schooling is 4.4 compared to 3.7 for illiterate women.
  6. Similarly,in Odisha with an overall low fertility rate of just 1.9,the TFR of illiterate women was 2 compared to a TFR of 3.6-3.5 among those with primary level schooling or below.
  7. At the all-India level,the TFR for women with below primary education was 3.1 compared to 2.9 for illiterate women and 2.4 for those without formal education.