Background: Maternal education is universally recognised as a major factor in positive societal indicators (health, wellbeing, overall education, etc.) and a country’s growth and economic sustainability, yet the underlying factors contributing to maternal education have not been widely investigated, especially in developing countries.
Objective: This study investigated the 15-year trend of maternal education in Bangladesh (2004–2018) to identify the factors contributing to maternal education.
Method: This study used publicly available cross-data from five consecutive Bangladesh Demographic and Health Surveys (2004, 2007, 2011, 2014 and 2018). Level of maternal education was grouped as ‘no education’, ‘incomplete primary’, ‘complete primary’, ‘incomplete secondary’, ‘complete secondary’ and ‘higher education’ (reference group). The differences in factors/exposure variables suspected to contribute to maternal education were measured for these groups for 2004–2018, and a survey multinomial logistic regression was performed to estimate the explanatory value of these factors.
Results: From 2004–2018, there was a 62% gross reduction of the no education group and a 61% gross increase in the higher education group. A gross increase was also observed for complete secondary (49%), incomplete secondary (39%) and complete primary education (14%). In multivariate analysis, in rural areas, in 2018, the probability of a woman being in the complete primary, incomplete primary or no education groups was increased (adjusted relative risk ratio: 1.21, 1.40 and 1.59), compared to 2004 (0.73, 1.09, 1.12), respectively. From 2004–2018, the factor of no television watching reduced the probability of maternal education levels. Having a husband/partner who had no education increased the probability of a woman’s education level. The probability of all maternal education levels decreased across all wealth index groups.
Conclusion: The data suggest that average maternal education level in Bangladesh increased from 2004–2018. However, an integrated effort is required to improve factors associated with maternal education to both increase maternal education and Bangladesh’s long-term sustainability.