School Quality, the Spread of New Ideas and Transitions in Childbearing Behavior

Sarah R. Brauner-Otto, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

This paper investigates the complex relationship between school quality, individuals’ attitudes, and childbearing behavior (specifically, contraceptive use). Using data from rural Nepal, I create geographically-weighted measures of exposure to school quality—such as teacher and peer characteristics and financial costs—and investigate (1) the direct relationship between these dimensions of school quality and contraceptive use; and (2) the indirect relationship via attitudes about family members’ household roles. Findings show that increased exposure to these aspects of school quality throughout the study area, but not necessarily at the closest school, is related to higher rates of contraceptive use; that school quality early in the life course can have long-term consequences for individual behavior; and that attitudes about familial roles may be a mechanism that explains at least part of the effect of geographically-weighted measures of school quality.

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Presented in Session 116: Environmental Exposures, Social Context and Reproductive Health