Preventing excess female school drop out in Mozambique: Conditional transfers and the respective role of parent and child in schooling decisions (Phase 1)

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. For upper primary schooling (EP2), the official completion rate is abysmal, especially in rural areas where even at age 19 it is only about 14% for males and 8% for females. 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.

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 develop a rigorous analytical framework, which we will then test in the field using a randomized 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 information to parents on their daughters’ school attendance.

While the RCT will provide a sound evidence basis of direct relevance to policy makers for the optimal design of conditional transfers, it will be embedded in economic theory and thus shed light on the way decisions on investments in child human capital are made within the household, which is a question of general relevance for development policy in Mozambique and elsewhere.

 

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