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Child ability and household human capital investment decisions in Burkina Faso

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

Using data they collected in rural Burkina Faso, the authors examine how children's cognitive abilities influence resource constrained households'decisions to invest in their education. This paper uses a direct measure of child ability for all primary school-aged children, regardless of current school enrollment. The analysis explicitly incorporates 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. The findings indicate that children with one standard deviation higher own ability are 16 percent more likely to be currently enrolled, while having a higher ability sibling lowers current enrollment by 16 percent and having two higher ability siblings lowers enrollment by 30 percent. The 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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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 5370.

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Date of creation: 01 Jul 2010
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:5370
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  1. Joseph Price, 2008. "Parent-Child Quality Time: Does Birth Order Matter?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(1).
  2. Emerson, Patrick M. & Souza, André Portela, 2008. "Birth Order, Child Labor, and School Attendance in Brazil," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 36(9), pages 1647-1664, September.
  3. Eric Edmonds, 2007. "Child Labor," Working Papers id:988, eSocialSciences.
  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. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Aizer, Anna, 2004. "Home alone: supervision after school and child behavior," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 1835-1848, August.
  8. 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.
  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. Melissa Binder, 1998. "Family background, gender and schooling in Mexico," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(2), pages 54-71.
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