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Abstract

This article investigates the complex relationship between various dimensions of women's educational context and their contraceptive use later in life. Using data from rural Nepal on all the schools that ever existed in one community, I create geographically weighted measures of school characteristics—specifically teacher and student characteristics—that capture exposure to the complete array of schools and investigate the direct relationship between these dimensions of school characteristics and contraceptive use. These analyses provide new information on the broader issue of how social context influences the adoption of innovative behaviors by exploring the wide-reaching effects of school characteristics on individuals. Findings show that the gender of teachers, the gender of other students, and the level of teacher education are all related to women's use of contraception; that increased exposure to these school characteristics throughout the study area, but not necessarily at the closest school, is related to higher rates of contraceptive use; and that school characteristics early in the life course can have long-term consequences for individual behavior.