Preventing excess female school drop out in Mozambique: Conditional transfers and the respective role of parent and child in schooling decisions (Phase 2)

This is a follow-up from this former IGC Mozambique project.

Despite large increases in enrolment rates in lower primary school grades, most children are still not completing primary education in Mozambique and numerous other African countries. This issue is even more pronounced for girls than boys, which is problematic not only from an equity point of view, but also from an efficiency point of view since positive externalities from the schooling of women are believed to be larger than those emanating from the schooling of males due to the former’s traditional role as the main caregivers in the household.

A recent literature has emerged with the aim of understanding the respective role of men and women and of uncovering asymmetric information between spouses in household decisions such as household expenditure and family planning. But despite recent work showing that children take part in household decisions, there is a dearth of evidence on the respective role of parents and children in making schooling decisions – one of the key areas of decision affecting children’s lives.

This research project aims to address the issue of excess drop out – with an emphasis on girls – at higher primary school grades in Mozambique using a novel intervention, while contributing to shedding light on the way schooling decisions are made within the household. More specifically, we aim to answer the following research questions:

What is the respective role of parental and child returns to schooling in decisions regarding school attendance? And: is there evidence of asymmetric information between children and parents reducing school attendance?

In order to answer these questions, we will carry out a randomised controlled trial (RCT) to compare the effectiveness of conditional transfers directed at teenage girls relative to conditional transfers directed at their parents, and to estimate the independent effect of providing regular information (but no cash) to parents on their daughters’ school attendance.

This work builds upon qualitative data previously gathered by the investigators in the study area during focus group discussions with parents and (separately) with their girls age 11-15.  While small in scale, this exploratory qualitative exercise gives support to the hypotheses that (i) both parents and girls of this age have an influence on school enrollment and attendance decisions, and (ii) children have private information on their school attendance.

The rigorous answers to the research questions obtained through the RCT could lead to the formulation of cost-effective alternatives to traditional conditional cash transfers programmes, if it is found that incentivising children is more cost-effective than incentivising parents, and, a fortiori, if the effect of reducing moral hazard by simply providing information on attendance is large enough.


  • Research in progress.

    Project last updated on: 10 Feb 2016.