(August 2000) The World Bank calls women’s education the “single most influential investment that can be made in the developing world.” Many governments now support women’s education not only to foster economic growth, but also to promote smaller families, increase modern contraceptive use, and improve child health. Educating women is an important end in and of itself. But is education the best short-term strategy for advancing women’s reproductive choice in low-resource settings?
The United Nations, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the Population Council, and others have examined the links between education and childbearing to provide a greater understanding of these issues. This policy brief highlights key findings from their investigations. The evidence suggests that a number of factors influence childbearing decisions, and that both short-term and long-term policy options need to be considered to improve women’s reproductive health.