Labour Markets, Poverty, and Development

By Giorgio Barba Navaretti; Riccardo Faini et al. | Go to book overview

6
Does the Labour Market Explain Lower Female Schooling? Evidence from Three African Countries

Simon Appleton, John Hoddinott, Pramila Krishnan, and Kerry Max


1. INTRODUCTION

Human capital formation is receiving increasing attention from both policy-makers and academics interested in promoting economic development. Models of endogenous growth stress the importance of investment in knowledge, including basic education and training, as critical factors in the expansion of GDP. Proponents of basic needs and capability approaches have long argued that education should form a principal component of development strategy. Many authors have stressed that investments in the education of women lead to better child health, lower fertility and reduced maternal mortality. Consequently, attention is increasingly focused on the means of achieving higher levels of human capital formation. This has both supply and demand-side aspects. Attention with respect to the latter has focused on factors affecting parental decisions to invest in their children's education. These include parental preferences for boys or girls, efficiency considerations (the relative costs and benefits of educating sons and daughters), and the 'voice' or bargaining power of individual parents in the decision-making process.

Though concern over human capital formation is relevant in all regions of the developing world, they are most acute in sub-Saharan Africa. This region contains many of the world's poorest countries; it is also particularly poorly endowed with human capital. Though there does not exist gender biases in certain aspects of human capital formation--unlike parts of south Asia, there is no evidence of females being disadvantaged with respect to child anthropometric status or longevity ( Svedberg 1990)--women receive, on average, less education, and as Table 6.1 reveals. The fact that this divergence occurs only in education, and is especially marked at the post-primary

____________________
A later draft of this paper was presented at the ESRC Development Economics Study Group Annual Conference on 'Human Development' at Leicester University, 25 March 1995. We are grateful for comments by John Knight, Jennifer Roberts and other participants. The work contained in this paper has been partially funded by the World Bank.

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