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Going to School in Purdah: Female Schooling, Mobility Norms and Madrasas in Bangladesh


  • Asadullah, Niaz

    () (University of Malaya)

  • Wahhaj, Zaki

    () (University of Kent)


This paper looks at the determinants of secondary school attendance in Bangladesh with a focus on the interaction between community gender norms and relative supply of madrasas (i.e. Islamic schools). We present a theoretical framework where the probability of children's school participation varies with respect to a non-economic factor – how the community observes social norms regarding female mobility – conditional upon the types of available schools. Household data from the Bangladesh Demographic Health Survey (BDHS) is combined with community information on the availability of non-religious secondary schools and madrasas to test our theoretical predictions. We find that in communities which are more 'progressive', in the sense that women have a relatively high level of mobility, the effect of non-religious school availability on attendance does not vary by gender. However in the more 'conservative communities', female schooling is more sensitive to the availability of, or distance to, madrasas.

Suggested Citation

  • Asadullah, Niaz & Wahhaj, Zaki, 2012. "Going to School in Purdah: Female Schooling, Mobility Norms and Madrasas in Bangladesh," IZA Discussion Papers 7059, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7059

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Deon Filmer & Norbert Schady, 2008. "Getting Girls into School: Evidence from a Scholarship Program in Cambodia," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 56, pages 581-617.
    2. Charles F. Manski, 2000. "Economic Analysis of Social Interactions," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 115-136, Summer.
    3. Schuler, Sidney Ruth & Bates, Lisa M. & Islam, Farzana & Islam, Md. Khairul, 2006. "The timing of marriage and childbearing among rural families in Bangladesh: Choosing between competing risks," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 62(11), pages 2826-2837, June.
    4. Lloyd, Cynthia B & Mete, Cem & Sathar, Zeba A, 2005. "The Effect of Gender Differences in Primary School Access, Type, and Quality on the Decision to Enroll in Rural Pakistan," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 53(3), pages 685-710, April.
    5. 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.
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    More about this item


    burka; school availability; gender norms; female education; madrasa; Bangladesh;

    JEL classification:

    • D04 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Policy: Formulation; Implementation; Evaluation
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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