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I) Introduction.

Universal primary education was enshrined as a human right in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Forty years later the goal was still not in sight and a call on donors and governments to reaffirm their commitment to universal primary enrollment was part of the World Declaration on Education for All issued in Jomtien, Thailand in 1990. The year 2000 was set as the target for achieving this goal. It is now 1999 and we are still not near to achieving universal primary education--and as pointed out dramatically in a recent report by Oxfam International (1999) we do not appear to be closing in on it.

This paper uses a collection of internationally comparable household datasets to investigate the correlates of educational enrollment and attainment gaps within, countries. The data from the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) for 57 surveys in 41 countries are used to carry out country specific analyses, which are comparable across countries. Specifically, the effects of gender, household wealth, the education of adult household members, and the presence of schools in the community on the educational outcomes of children are assessed in each country and compared across countries.

Using household based surveys allows the analysis to go beyond comparing country aggregates which are reported in several large "international databases" (e.g. UNESCO data or derivatives thereof such as Barro and Lee, 1993; Nehru, Swanson and Dubey, 1993; Dubey and King, 1994; Ahuja and Filmer, 1996). The DHS have a drawback in that they lack data on household consumption expenditures, the usual variable used to rank households by their socio economic standing. This analysis uses the results from Filmer and Pritchett (1998) which argued that an index of housing characteristics and assets owned by the household members, which are collected in the DHS, is a good measure of a household^ long run wealth in predicting educational outcomes.

The particular goal here is to investigate the association between educational disparities and gender, household wealth, adult education, and "access" to schools. The analysis leads to four main findings. First, the extent of the female disadvantage in education varies enormously across countries. At one extreme there are some countries, primarily located in Western and Central Africa, North Africa, and South Asia where the gaps are large in all the measures used. For example, in India there is a 16.6 percentage point difference between the school enrollment of girls and boys aged 6 to 14. In Benin, the enrollment rate of boys aged 6 to 14 is 63 percent higher than the enrollment rate of girls. At the other extreme there are countries, mostly in Latin America, where there is no female disadvantage in and in fact a small female advantage in some of the measures used. In Colombia, the enrollment rate of boys is 98 percent that of girls.

Second, while gender gaps are large in a subset of countries, wealth gaps are large in almost all the countries studied. For example, in Senegal the enrollment of 6 to 14 year olds from the poorest households is 52 percentage points lower than for those from the richest households. In Zambia, there is a 36 percentage point difference in the enrollment rate of children from the richest and poorest households. Disturbingly, in some countries where there is a high degree of female disadvantage in enrollment, wealth interacts with gender to exacerbate gaps in educational enrollment among the poor (Niger, Egypt, Morocco, India, and Pakistan). The magnitude of this difference can be quite large. For example, in India there is a 2.5 percentage point difference in the enrollment of male and female children from the richest household whereas the difference is 34 percentage points for children from the poorest households.

Third, the education of adults in the household has a significant relationship with the enrollment of children in practically all the countries studied, even after controlling for household wealth. The results do not however confirm the notion that the education of adult females is always more strongly related to the education of children that that of adult males. While this is true in some countries, the story is complicated and varies across countries. The findings do however confirm that in a subset of countries with a large female disadvantage in enrollment, the education of adult females has a larger impact on the enrollment of girls than that of boys. This outcome is consistently found in India, Nepal, and Pakistan.

Fourth, the presence of a primary and a secondary school in the community has a significant relationship to enrollment in some countries only (notably the Western and Central African countries). Moreover, the presence of a school does not appear to be differentially related to the education of boys and girls in a systematic way across countries, even those with a high female disadvantage in enrollment.
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Title Annotation:The Structure of Social Disparities in Education: Gender and Wealth
Author:Filmer, Deon
Publication:The Structure of Social Disparities in Education-Gender and Wealth
Date:Nov 1, 1999
Next Article:II) Data and methodological approach.

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