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The Returns to Education in Africa: Some New Estimates


  • Mahdi Barouni
  • Stijn Broecke


We estimate the rate of return to education for 12 African countries using recent data and a range of methodologies, which we apply consistently across all countries. Our findings confirm that the return to basic education is the lowest (7-10%). The returns to upper secondary and tertiary education are similar to one another (25-30%). Accounting for the risk of joblessness increases these rates of return, particularly for basic education and for women at tertiary level. Our results at the country level suggest that great care should be taken in choosing the appropriate methodology to estimate rates of return.

Suggested Citation

  • Mahdi Barouni & Stijn Broecke, 2014. "The Returns to Education in Africa: Some New Estimates," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 50(12), pages 1593-1613, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jdevst:v:50:y:2014:i:12:p:1593-1613
    DOI: 10.1080/00220388.2014.936394

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. T. Paul Schultz, 2004. "Evidence of Returns to Schooling in Africa from Household Surveys: Monitoring and Restructuring the Market for Education," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 13(02), pages 95-148, December.
    2. O.B. Okuwa, 2004. "Private returns to higher education in Nigeria," Research Papers RP_139, African Economic Research Consortium.
    3. Chiswick, Barry R., 1997. "Interpreting the coefficient of schooling in the human capital earnings function," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1790, The World Bank.
    4. Sackey, 2008. "Private Returns to Education in Ghana: Implications for Investments in Schooling and Migration," Research Papers RP_174, African Economic Research Consortium.
    5. Wahba, Jackline, 2000. "Returns to education and regional earnings differentials in Egypt," Discussion Paper Series In Economics And Econometrics 25, Economics Division, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kristinn Hermannsson & Patrizio Lecca, 2016. "Human Capital in Economic Development: From Labour Productivity to Macroeconomic Impact," Economic Papers, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 35(1), pages 24-36, March.
    2. Kentaro Shimada & Zeba Khan & Suguru Mizunoya & Ayako Wakano, 2016. "An Update of the Returns to Education in Kenya: Accounting both endogeneity and sample selection biases," Discussion Papers in Economics and Business 16-18, Osaka University, Graduate School of Economics.
    3. Abebe Shimeles, 2016. "Can higher education reduce inequality in developing countries?," IZA World of Labor, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA), pages 273-273, July.
    4. repec:eee:injoed:v:61:y:2018:i:c:p:173-183 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Carl-Johan Dalgaard & Henrik Hansen, 2017. "The Return to Foreign Aid," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 53(7), pages 998-1018, July.
    6. Ivar Kolstad & Arne Wiig, 2015. "Education and entrepreneurial success," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 44(4), pages 783-796, April.
    7. Tillmann Heidelk, 2019. "The Returns to Education in the Context of a Natural Disaster: Evidence from the 2010 Earthquake in Haiti," Working Papers ECARES 2019-17, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    8. Zavale, Nelson Casimiro & Macamo, ElĂ­sio, 2016. "How and what knowledge do universities and academics transfer to industry in African low-income countries? Evidence from the stage of university-industry linkages in Mozambique," International Journal of Educational Development, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 247-261.
    9. Jones Sam & Trifkovi? Neda & Sohnesen Thomas, 2018. "The evolution of private returns to education during post-conflict transformation: Evidence from Mozambique," WIDER Working Paper Series 143, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    10. Reham Rizk, 2016. "Returns to Education: An Updated Comparison from Arab Countries," Working Papers 986, Economic Research Forum, revised Apr 2016.
    11. De Neve, Jan-Walter & Harling, Guy, 2017. "Offspring schooling associated with increased parental survival in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 176(C), pages 149-157.

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