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Fertility, education and social mobility in 20th century Colombia

Jaramillo-Echeverri, Juliana (2023) Fertility, education and social mobility in 20th century Colombia. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.00004476


The main objective of this thesis is to contribute to our understanding of the fertility transition, the unequal opportunities in access to education and the long-term persistence of social status in twentieth-century Colombia. The thesis has two parts. The first part presents a detailed empirical perspective of the rapid Colombian fertility decline including results at the national, sub-national and individual-level. Using full individual-level census data, the results show that before the fertility transition fertility norms differed in the country because of the different historical legacies. But by 1964 fertility started falling simultaneously across all regions and fertility halved almost everywhere in only 25 years; the only exception was the indigenous communities that did not undergo a fertility decline during this period. This sudden decline suggests that a technological or cultural shock could explain the decline. However, the findings confirm that knowledge and access to family planning did not bring about a faster fertility decline. I provide new stylised facts for the long-run relationship between female education and fertility. At the individual level, the relationship between education and fertility holds strongly. However, at the national and sub-national level, fertility decline cannot be explained by the direct effects of education as fertility fell continuously in all educational groups since 1965. The second part of this thesis provides new evidence on the unequal access to education and presents a long-term view of social mobility using surname-based methods. The results show that contemporary patterns of social exclusion in education are rooted in the colonial past. However, the long-term effects of the colonial past have been uneven. While the historical elite reinvented itself, and some have been slowly losing their elite status, indigenous and Afro-Colombians have been trapped with scarce possibilities to move upward. The results also reveal low social mobility and a segregated marriage market with high levels of homogamy at the top and the bottom of the social ladder.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2023 Juliana Jaramillo-Echeverri
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
L Education > L Education (General)
Sets: Departments > Economic History
Supervisor: Cummins, Neil and Schneider, Eric B.

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