Was Fertility Decline in Korea Driven by Educational Expansion? A Cohort Analysis

Sam Hyun Yoo, Arizona State University

South Korea has experienced rapid fertility decline and an equally striking expansion in women's education in the late twentieth century. This study is to understand how educational differentials in fertility have evolved through the fertility transition and whether an improvement in women’s education was the main driver for fertility decline in Korea. Using census samples data for the period 1970 - 2010, I analyze completed fertility for 1926-70 birth cohorts. This study finds that fertility difference by women’s education has almost disappeared for the last 40-year cohorts. Despite its remarkable development, change in women’s educational attainment accounts for just one fifth of fertility decline during the transition. The extraordinary fertility decline in Korea was mainly due to falling fertility in all social groups, until the cohorts that reached the replacement level of fertility. This study discusses possible explanations for variation in the evolution of educational differentials during the transition.

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Presented in Poster Session 1