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Child Ability and Household Human Capital Investment Decisions in Burkina Faso

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

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard Akresh & Emilie Bagby & Damien de Walque & Harounan Kazianga, 2012. "Child Ability and Household Human Capital Investment Decisions in Burkina Faso," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 61(1), pages 157-186.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:ecdecc:doi:10.1086/666953
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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