IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Are Boys and Girls Affected Differently When the Household Head Leaves for Good? Evidence from School and Work Choices in Colombia


  • Fitzsimons, Emla
  • Mesnard, Alice


This paper investigates how the permanent departure of the head from the household, mainly due to death or divorce, affects children’s school enrolment and work participation in rural Colombia. In our empirical specification we use household-level fixed effects to deal with the fact that households that experience the departure of the head are likely to differ in unobserved ways from those that do not, and we also address the issue of non-random attrition from the panel. We find remarkably different effects for boys and girls. For boys, the adverse event reduces school participation and increases participation in paid work, whereas for girls we find evidence of the adverse event having a beneficial impact on schooling. To explain these differences, we provide evidence for boys consistent with the head’s departure having an important effect through the income reduction associated with it, whereas for girls, changes in the household decision-maker appear to play an important role.

Suggested Citation

  • Fitzsimons, Emla & Mesnard, Alice, 2008. "Are Boys and Girls Affected Differently When the Household Head Leaves for Good? Evidence from School and Work Choices in Colombia," CEPR Discussion Papers 7040, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7040

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: CEPR Discussion Papers are free to download for our researchers, subscribers and members. If you fall into one of these categories but have trouble downloading our papers, please contact us at

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Haddad, Lawrence & Hoddinott, John & Alderman, Harold & DEC, 1994. "Intrahousehold resource allocation : an overview," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1255, The World Bank.
    2. Dammert, Ana C., 2008. "Child labor and schooling response to changes in coca production in rural Peru," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(1), pages 164-180, April.
    3. Lorenzo Guarcello & Fabrizia Mealli & Furio Rosati, 2010. "Household vulnerability and child labor: the effect of shocks, credit rationing, and insurance," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 23(1), pages 169-198, January.
    4. Kathleen Beegle & Joachim De Weerdt & Stefan Dercon, 2006. "Orphanhood and the Long-Run Impact on Children," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 88(5), pages 1266-1272.
    5. Yamano, Takashi & Jayne, T S, 2005. "Working-Age Adult Mortality and Primary School Attendance in Rural Kenya," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 53(3), pages 619-653, April.
    6. Hanan G. Jacoby & Emmanuel Skoufias, 1997. "Risk, Financial Markets, and Human Capital in a Developing Country," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 64(3), pages 311-335.
    7. Skoufias, Emmanual & Parker, Susan W., 2002. "Labor market shocks and their impacts on work and schooling," FCND briefs 129, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    8. Duryea, Suzanne & Lam, David & Levison, Deborah, 2007. "Effects of economic shocks on children's employment and schooling in Brazil," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 188-214, September.
    9. Edmonds, Eric V., 2006. "Child labor and schooling responses to anticipated income in South Africa," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 386-414, December.
    10. David Evans & Edward Miguel, 2007. "Orphans and schooling in africa: a longitudinal analysis," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 44(1), pages 35-57, February.
    11. Paul Gertler & David I. Levine & Minnie Ames, 2004. "Schooling and Parental Death," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(1), pages 211-225, February.
    12. Hoddinott, John & Haddad, Lawrence, 1995. "Does Female Income Share Influence Household Expenditures? Evidence from Cote d'Ivoire," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 57(1), pages 77-96, February.
    13. Bell, Clive & Bruhns, Ramona & Gersbach, Hans, 2006. "Economic growth, education, and AIDS in Kenya : a long-run analysis," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4025, The World Bank.
    14. Beegle, Kathleen & Dehejia, Rajeev H. & Gatti, Roberta, 2006. "Child labor and agricultural shocks," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 80-96, October.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Adverse even; Bargaining; Child labour; Credit and insurance market failures; Income loss; Schooling;

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • O16 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Financial Markets; Saving and Capital Investment; Corporate Finance and Governance

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7040. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.