Education, Marriage and Fertility: Long-Term Evidence from a Female Stipend Program in Bangladesh

Youjin Hahn, Monash University
Asadul Islam, Monash University
Kanti Nuzhat, Monash University
Russell Smyth, Monash University
Hee-Seung Yang, Monash University

In 1994, Bangladesh introduced the Female Secondary School Stipend Program, which made secondary education free for girls residing in rural areas. This paper examines the long-term effects of the stipend program on education, marriage and fertility outcomes of women. We find that the stipend significantly increased years of education for eligible girls by 14 to 25 percent. These girls were more likely to get married later and have lower desired, and actual, fertility. They also showed greater autonomy in making decisions about household purchases, own health care and visiting outside home. They were more likely to work in formal sectors instead of agricultural and informal sectors. In addition, eligible women were likely to marry more educated husbands who had better occupations and were closer in age to their own. These results imply that stipend programs can increase female empowerment through positive marriage market outcomes at low costs over the long-term.

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Presented in Session 127: Access to Financial Resources, Gender, and Fertility Behavior