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Education and teenage child birth in Uganda: understanding the links from the Uganda Demographic and Health Survey
Authors: Marshall Makate, and Clifton Makate
Source: International Journal of Social Economics, DOI:
Topic(s): Education
Country: Africa
Published: APR 2018
Abstract: Purpose The role of increased schooling on teenage child birth has been expansively studied especially in developed countries. However, caveats remain in the case of low-income countries especially sub-Saharan Africa. This study sought to ascertain the impact of increased schooling on the probability of first child birth at 15 years or younger, 16-17, 18-19, and 20 years or older, in the important context of Uganda – a country with one of the highest adolescent fertility rates in Africa. Design/methodology/approach The empirical analysis uses recent data from the nationally representative Demographic and Health Survey for Uganda conducted in 2011. We then adopt a fuzzy regression discontinuity design, estimated using instrumental variables techniques that exploits the exogenous change in schooling impelled by the universal primary education policy enacted in 1997 in Uganda. Our empirical approach compares the fertility outcomes for women born in 1984-1992 (i.e. exposed to the policy) to those born in 1973-1981 (i.e. non-exposed). Findings We find that a one-year increase in schooling lowers the probability of first child birth at age the age of 15 years or younger, 16-17, 18-19, and 20 years or older by nearly 8.2, 9.2, 9.4, and 9.5 percentage points, respectively. Also, pathways through which education impacts teenage motherhood included information access through the media, increased literacy, prenatal care utilization, marital status, and unhealthy sexual behavior. Originality/value The paper uses nationally representative survey data to scrutinize the causal influence of schooling on the probability of first child birth using the 1997 universal primary education in Uganda as a natural experiment to identify the impact of schooling. The study recommends that expanding primary schooling opportunities for girls may be an effective strategy towards accelerated reductions in teenage fertility in Uganda.