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Who Gets Primary Schooling in Pakistan: Inequalities among and within Families


  • Zeba A. Sathar

    (Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, Islamabad.)

  • Cynthia B. Lloyd

    (The Population Council, New York.)


The chances of Pakistani children's entering school and completing the primary level are extremely low even in comparison with the relatively poor situation in other South Asian countries. This paper uses the 1991 Pakistan Integrated Household Survey to explore some of the determinants of parents' decisions about their children's schooling, giving particular attention to factors at the household and community levels. The results indicate that inequalities across households provide a major explanation for variations among children in primary schooling levels. Even the basic decisions relating to children's entry into school and completion of the primary level are largely determined by parents' education, particularly that of mothers, and household income. Primary school is not compulsory and even attendance at public school requires substantial monetary outlays. With only a small percentage of school-age children in Pakistan having mothers with any education or parents with sufficient income, the cycle of poverty and unequal opportunity is perpetuated. The accessibility of "appropriate" single-sex schools and the availability of quality schools are important additional factors in children's schooling outcomes, particularly for girls in the rural areas. The findings also portray inequalities among children within the same household. The most striking of these are differences between boys and girls. Also larger numbers of siblings reduce the probability of primary school completion for children in the urban areas and significantly reduce average educational expenditures, suggesting an emerging quality-quantity trade-off between fertility and education. The paper concludes by recommending a substantially increased government commitment to primary education, with particular emphasis on the needs of girls. Expected gains would include greater gender equality, a substantial improvement in human development, and, possibly, a decline in fertility.

Suggested Citation

  • Zeba A. Sathar & Cynthia B. Lloyd, 1994. "Who Gets Primary Schooling in Pakistan: Inequalities among and within Families," The Pakistan Development Review, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, vol. 33(2), pages 103-134.
  • Handle: RePEc:pid:journl:v:33:y:1994:i:2:p:103-134

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    1. Chernichovsky, Dov, 1985. "Socioeconomic and Demographic Aspects of School Enrollment and Attendance in Rural Botswana," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(2), pages 319-332, January.
    2. George Psacharopoulos, 1985. "Returns to Education: A Further International Update and Implications," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 20(4), pages 583-604.
    3. Schultz, T.P., 1990. "Returns To Women'S Education," Papers 603, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
    4. Mohammad Irfan, 1985. "Poverty and Household Demographic Behaviour in Pakistan - Insights from PLM Survey 1979," PLM Project Reports 1985:11, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics.
    5. Shahrukh Rafi Khan & Rehana Siddiqui & Fazal Hussain, 1986. "An Analysis of School Level Drop-Out Rates and Output in Pakistan," PIDE-Working Papers 1986:149, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics.
    6. Sudhir Anand & Martin Ravallion, 1993. "Human Development in Poor Countries: On the Role of Private Incomes and Public Services," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(1), pages 133-150, Winter.
    7. Nadeem A. Burney & Mohammad Irfan, 1991. "Parental Characteristics, Supply of Schools, and Child School-enrolment in Pakistan," The Pakistan Development Review, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, vol. 30(1), pages 21-62.
    8. Richard H. Sabot, 1992. "Human Capital Accumulation in Post Green Revolution Rural Pakistan: A Progress Report," The Pakistan Development Review, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, vol. 31(4), pages 449-490.
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