Women's Education and the Timing of Marriage and Childbearing in the Next Generation: Evidence from Rural Bangladesh

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Abstract

In traditional settings where early marriage and early childbearing persist, decisions about age at marriage are often made by parents, and mothers-in-law tend to have considerable influence in hastening the initiation of childbearing. This study analyzes data from a 2002 survey in six villages in rural Bangladesh to test the hypothesis that daughters of women with more education marry later and that daughters-in-law of more educated women initiate childbearing at a slower rate. Using Cox proportional hazard models, we find significant associations between the educational level of mothers and the age at marriage of their daughters and between the educational level of mothers-in-law and the timing of first birth among their daughters-in-law, although the association between the former attenuates when controlling for other variables. We also find that these associations do not appear to be mediated by the senior women's level of empowerment. We conclude that in rural Bangladesh there is a significant relationship between female education in one generation and the timing of marriage and childbearing in the next.

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