Someresearchers have consistently shown that women’s fertility is positivelyrelated to their age in Bangladesh (Amin and Faruquee, 1980; Mizan, 1983;Mabud, 1990). Sohail (1979) found that the level of fertility increases rapidlyup to age 30 and then decreases indicating a curvilinear relationship betweenage and fertility (Miah, 1993).
However the impact could be negative ifeconomic activity and female labor force participation improve among theyounger families. But there are some empirical articles which ignore the impactof changing female age-structure on fertility rates (Siddiqui, 1996). The educationallevel of couples has been consistently reported to be inversely related tofertility (Berelson, 1976). But the findings of Bangladesh studies areambiguous. Khuda and Howlader (1990) found an inverse relationship betweeneducation and fertility for both husbands and wives.
Chowdhury (1977), on theother hand, reported a curvilinear relation between education and fertility forboth sexes. Amin and Faruquee (1980) found the relationship to be negative.Mizan (1983) reported that the husband’s education has a non-significantrelationship, whereas the wife’s higher educational level has a significantnegative effect on fertility. Becker S.O. et al have showed that the trade-offbetween child quantity and education is a crucial ingredient of unified growthmodels that explain the transition from Malthusian stagnation to modern growth.
The model support a mutual causation between education and fertility, in linewith the standard trade-off concept. Furthermore, Becker S.O. et al show thateducation levels in 1849 are a strong predictor of the strength of thefertility transition between 1880 and 1905.
Countries with higher schoolenrolment rates in 1849 show a steeper fertility decline, both in terms ofcrude birth rates and marital fertility rates, at the turn from the 19th to the20th century. Thus, in line with unified growth theory, human capital played asignificant role in the fertility transition and as such in the transition fromMalthusian stagnation to modern growth (Becker, Cinnirella and Woessmann,2009). Increasing the level education at least up-to secondary level along withavailability of the family planning services, can go a long way in depressingthe level of fertility and wide diffusion of practice of contraception(Chaudhury, 1977). Female education is inversely related with cumulativefertility. Higher educated women are more likely to have lower number ofchildren than their counterparts with lower education. Part of the reasonbehind lower number of children is that higher educated women have higher ageat first cohabitation, higher participation in the labor market, and positiveattitude towards small family. In addition, they have higher wealth index andhave partners with higher education which essentially contributes to the lowerlevel of cumulative fertility (Islam, 2014). In connection with this, Tanfer(1984:135) shows that “the negative effects of education on fertility operatethrough the direct associations between education and age at first marriage,contraceptive knowledge and contraceptive use, and through the inverserelationship between education and desired family size.
” Factorssuch as a woman’s work status or the type of work she is engaged in alsoemerged as significant determinants of fertility in past research. Researchersargue that work status lowers a woman’s fertility because her reproductive andwork roles are often incompatible (Duza, 1990; Khuda and Howlader, 1990; Mabud,1990). Working women may also derive alternative satisfactions to havingchildren, such as social and economic rewards, and creative activity outsidethe home including recreation (Chowdhury, 1977). The findings of other empiricalstudies examining the effect of women’s occupation on fertility in Bangladeshwidely vary (Chowdhury, 1979; Amin and Faruquee, 1980; Mizan, 1992), partlybecause they use different occupational categories. There has been an increase in the number offemales in the workforce, both nationally as well as in the rural areas.However, there is also evidence of poverty-driven female employment, resultingfrom poor household economic conditions, high rates of female headships eitherde jure or de facto as a result of temporary male out-migration (Safilios-Rothschild and Mahmood 1989), and higher incidence of female headships amongthe poor and landless households (Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies1990; Rahman and Hossain 1991). Rahman (1986) found that between 8 and 24 percent of households in Faridpur and Tangail districts send their women in searchof wage employment, and the proportion is much higher among poorer households:50-77 per cent.
The same study also found that there has been a rise in femaleemployment since the mid-1970s, and argued that the pressures of poverty mayhave been critical in sending women out in search of work. Female employmentmay have affected contraceptive use and fertility in at least three ways:female employment creates more favorable fertility attitudes and norms; itempowers women in household decision-making; and it increases opportunity costsassociated with childbearing (Rahman, 1986). Existingliterature on income and fertility suggests that income per capita is an indicatorof economic development which is an important factor of fertility. Both Malthusand Ricardo argued that improvements in per capita income lead to higherfertility.
Classical economists emphasized that the causal relationship betweenincome and fertility is expected to be positive in the short run and it couldbe negative in the long run by ignoring the scale effects. However, in Simon’s(1974) study, income is considered as a social control variable. The studyindicates that any nations can use income as an effective instrument forlowering their fertility (Simon, 1974). Similarly, Bulatao and Lee (1983) arguethat the increase in income is a result of the increase in the value of time, andthere would be inverse relationship between the fertility rates and income (Siddiqui, 1996). Radioownership has increased from less than ten per cent in the early 1970s toaround 25 per cent in 1989 in Bangladesh (Huq and Cleland 1990).
The role ofmass media, especially radio, in popularizing the family planning movement inmany of the developing countries is widely recognized. The utility of radio isfar greater than its price. Villages in Bangladesh are less isolated today,having been linked to the outside world by the mass media (Cleland et al.
1994).This linkage promotes diffusion of ideas not only about family planning butalso about lifestyles. The ideational hypothesis argues that reproductivebehavior is affected by such ideas (Cleland and Wilson 1987) Accessto tube-well drinking water and to sealed latrines represents a status symbolin the rural areas. Also, they ensure better health for all, and therebycontribute to reduction in infant and child mortality, and hence, the desiredfamily size. Furthermore, access to tube-wells and sealed latrines reflectsrising living standards and aspirations, and thereby raises the relative costof bringing up children and reduces the economic utility of children. (Khudaand Hossain 1996) Increasingpopulation pressure on the land is continually decreasing the land-man ratio,from 49 decimals in 1951 to 20 decimals in 1991. In the process, a largeproportion of the rural population has been rendered functionally landless.Also, the average size of farms has diminished rapidly, from 3.
5 acres in 1960to less than two acres now (Government of Bangladesh 1994). Furthermore, therehas been greater skewness in the distribution in farm size. Farms were dividedevenly in the categories of small and medium farms in 1960, but in a span oftwo decades 70 per cent of holdings were in the small farm-holding category(Huq and Cleland 1990). Indeed, the overall economic situation suggests thatliving standards for the vast majority have stagnated for most of the pastthree decades. Manyresearchers in Bangladesh have noted a significant negative effect of urbanresidence on fertility (Khuda and Howlader, 199Q; Mabud, 1990; Mizan, 1983).Amin and Faruquee (1980), however, found little difference in fertility betweenrural and urban sectors of Bangladesh. Fertilitydifferentials by religion have been well documented in many studies in thedeveloping nations.
Studies on India noted significant differences in fertilityfor Muslims and Hindus (Driver, 1963; Mukherjee and Singh, 1961). Similarfindings have also been reported in various Bangladesh studies (Khuda andHowlader, 1990; Chawdhury, 1977; Maloney et al., 1980; Mizan, 1983). Thesestudies, without exception, report a higher fertility for Muslims than forHindus.