Does the availability of secondary schools increase primary schooling? Empirical evidence from northern Senegal
When parents in Senegal decide upon primary school enrollment of their children, they might consider future returns to education. These future benefits in turn heavily depend on a child's prospects to attend secondary school. If private returns to primary schooling are very low and secondary schooling is costly but yields higher returns, the incentive to send children to primary school might be low for poor families. Based on a new household survey from urban and rural northern Senegal, this paper reassesses the puzzling results of Filmer (2007) according to which the availability of secondary schools does not affect primary school participation in Senegal. The empirical results confirm that secondary school availability does not play a role for the average child. Distance to the next secondary school matters only for the two highest wealth quintiles. Instead, the availability of primary schools and household wealth are important determinants of primary school enrollment. To shed further light on this surprising result, the paper discusses various reasons why the distance to the nearest secondary school might not be a very good proxy of a child's prospect of secondary school attendance.
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