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If you build it, will they come? School availability and school enrollment in 21 poor countries

  • Filmer, Deon

Increasing the supply of schools is commonly advocated as a policy intervention to promote schooling. Analysis of the relationship between the school enrollment of 6 to 14 year olds and the distance to primary and secondary schools in 21 rural areas in low-income countries (including some of the poorest countries in Sub-Saharan Africa) reveals that the two are often statistically significantly related. However, the magnitudes of the associations are small. Simulating big reductions in distance yields only small increases in average school participation, and only small reductions in within-country inequality. The data are mostly cross-sectional and therefore it is difficult to assess the degree to which results might be driven by endogenous school placement. Data can be geographically matched over time in three of the study countries and under some assumptions the results from these countries are consistent with no substantial bias in the cross-sectional estimates. Although increasing school availability by decreasing the average distance to schools can be a tool for increasing enrollments, it cannot be expected to have a substantial effect. Other interventions, such as those geared toward increasing the demand for schooling or increasing the quality of schooling should be prioritized.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 3340.

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Date of creation: 01 Jun 2004
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:3340
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  1. Foster, Andrew D & Rosenzweig, Mark R, 1996. "Technical Change and Human-Capital Returns and Investments: Evidence from the Green Revolution," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 931-53, September.
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  3. Filmer, Deon & Pritchett, Lant, 1998. "Estimating wealth effects without expenditure data - or tears : with an application to educational enrollments in states of India," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1994, The World Bank.
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  6. Pritchett, Lant & Filmer, Deon, 1999. "What education production functions really show: a positive theory of education expenditures," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 223-239, April.
  7. Pitt, Mark M & Rosenzweig, Mark R & Gibbons, Donna M, 1993. "The Determinants and Consequences of the Placement of Government Programs in Indonesia," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 7(3), pages 319-48, September.
  8. Esther Duflo, 2001. "Schooling and Labor Market Consequences of School Construction in Indonesia: Evidence from an Unusual Policy Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 795-813, September.
  9. Lavy, Victor, 1996. "School supply constraints and children's educational outcomes in rural Ghana," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 291-314, December.
  10. Harold Alderman & Jere R. Behrman & Victor Lavy & Rekha Menon, 2001. "Child Health and School Enrollment: A Longitudinal Analysis," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 36(1), pages 185-205.
  11. Christina Paxson & Norbert R. Schady, 2002. "The Allocation and Impact of Social Funds: Spending on School Infrastructure in Peru," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 16(2), pages 297-319, August.
  12. Handa, Sudhanshu, 2002. "Raising primary school enrolment in developing countries: The relative importance of supply and demand," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 103-128, October.
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