Educate a Woman and Save a Nation: The Relationship between Maternal Education and Infant Mortality in Sub-Saharan Africa

Nyovani Madise, African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC)
Eliya M. Zulu, African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC)
Zoe Matthews, University of Southampton

Two decades ago, Caldwell’s paper on routes to low mortality in poor countries identified female education as the distinguishing feature of those countries who were ‘superior health achievers’ relative to their per capita income. Since then, evidence of a positive link between infant mortality and female education has grown significantly, yet improvements in female education continue at a very slow pace in Africa. In this paper we re-emphasise the importance of female education for improving child survival and achievement of the health-related Millennium Development Goals. We demonstrate, using data from 18 African countries that female education, especially secondary level or higher, has positive association with child survival and that this effect operates through socio-economic advantage, use of health-care services, and better reproductive behaviour. We also demonstrate with macro-level data that tackling gender inequality by raising the ratio of female-to-male literacy will have positive impacts for child health.

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Presented in Poster Session 6