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Child Ability and Household Human Capital Investment Decisions in Burkina Faso

  • Richard Akresh
  • Emilie Bagby
  • Damien de Walque
  • Harounan Kazianga

Using data we collected in Burkina Faso, we explore how child ability influences parents’ decisions to invest in their children’s human capital. We use a direct measure of child ability for all primary school–aged children, regardless of current school enrollment. We explicitly incorporate direct measures of the ability of each child’s siblings (both absolute and relative measures) to show how sibling rivalry exerts an impact on the parents’ decision of whether and how much to invest in their child’s education. We find that children with one standard deviation higher own ability are 16% more likely to be currently enrolled, while having a higher-ability sibling lowers current enrollment by 15% and having two higher-ability siblings lowers enrollment by 30%. Results are robust to addressing the potential reverse causality of schooling influencing child ability measures and using alternative cognitive tests to measure ability.

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Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Economic Development and Cultural Change.

Volume (Year): 61 (2012)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 157 - 186

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:ecdecc:doi:10.1086/666953
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  1. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2005. "The More the Merrier? The Effect of Family Size and Birth Order on Children's Education," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 120(2), pages 669-700, May.
  2. Edmonds, Eric V., 2008. "Child Labor," Handbook of Development Economics, Elsevier.
  3. Patrick M. Emerson & Andre Portela Souza, 2002. "Birth Order, Child Labor and School Attendance in Brazil," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0212, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  4. Masako Ota & Peter Moffatt, 2007. "The within-household schooling decision: a study of children in rural Andhra Pradesh," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 20(1), pages 223-239, February.
  5. Harounan Kazianga, 2004. "Schooling Returns for Wage Earners in Burkina Faso: Evidence from the 1994 and 1998 National Surveys," Working Papers 892, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  6. Butcher, Kristin F & Case, Anne, 1994. "The Effect of Sibling Sex Composition on Women's Education and Earnings," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(3), pages 531-63, August.
  7. Melissa Binder, 1998. "Family background, gender and schooling in Mexico," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(2), pages 54-71.
  8. Aizer, Anna, 2004. "Home alone: supervision after school and child behavior," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 1835-1848, August.
  9. Ana Dammert, 2010. "Siblings, child labor, and schooling in Nicaragua and Guatemala," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 23(1), pages 199-224, January.
  10. Joseph Price, 2008. "Parent-Child Quality Time: Does Birth Order Matter?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(1).
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