Has Fertility Decline Contributed to Reducing Gender Inequality in Bangladesh?
Sajeda Amin, Population Council
Simeen Mahmud, BRAC University
This paper examines the causal pathways of influence flowing from fertility decline to gender equality in Bangladesh. Fertility rates in 2007 are estimated to be 2.4 births per woman, down from around 7 in the late 1960s. Bangladesh is an important case in point from a policy perspective in that fertility decline is attributed to a strong programmatic emphasis that occurred in the absence of any significant change in income and living standards in the initial years. The data examined include a series of demographic and economic surveys to map out time trends and trajectories of change analyzed in conjunction with qualitative data from intensive early village studies that reported both high fertility and inequitable gender norms. The primary outcome variables of interest are gender differences in child survival and life expectancy, education, age at marriage, and labor force participation of women.