Gender Gap in Current School Enrolment: Selection Among ”Irregular” Student?

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Gender gap in current school enrolment: selection among ”irregular” student?∗ Michel Tenikue†
CEPS/INSTEAD, Luxembourg

September 2009

Abstract
Many developing countries face a pro-male gender gap in schooling, as boys are more likely to be enrolled at school than girls. This paper examines whether the current enrolment gap prevails at the same time among ”regular” and ”irregular” children. Regular children are children who complete primary education between the age of 12 and 15 years. Irregular children are the rest. We investigate the gender gap in schooling empirically using data provided by the 2001 Cameroon Household Survey. The empirical framework allows for a different gender effect among regular and irregular children. It also accounts for selection into the two groups. Results show no male-female difference among regular children. Among irregular children however, females are more likely to stay out of schools. We therefore suggest that, independently of the source of the gender gap, it seems to be at work mostly among irregular children.



I began work on this paper while visiting the University of British Columbia. I am grateful to Siwan Anderson, Patrick Fran¸ois, Ashok Kotwal, Jean-Marie Baland for helpful comments. I would also like to thank Frederic c

Gaspart, Sylvie Lambert, Primila Krishnan, Vincenzo Verardi, Miguel Urquiola, Hanan Jacoby, David McKenzie and seminar participants at ECRU UCL.

Email: michel.tenikue@ceps.lu

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Introduction

It is widely recognized that, irrespective of the gender, investments in education have positive effects individual income and productivity. Unfortunately, in many developing countries, a promale gender gap is still observed in schooling (Orazem and King, 2008, World-Bank, 2008, Dar, Blunch, Kim, and Sasaki, 2002). Closing this gap is a priority for many governments1 and is included in the Millennium Developments Goals.

The literature has suggested many sources of the gender gap in school enrolment: preference or parental discrimination (Kingdon, 2002), market incentives such as the male-female differences in the opportunity cost of time spent at school and the male-female difference in future earning prospects (Kingdon, 1998, Munshi and Rosenzweig, 2006), social norms about gender roles in familial relationships (Orazem and King, 2008, Rosenzweig and Schultz, 1982, Lahiri and Self, 2007). The driving forces of the gender gap cited generate a similar gender effect across different groups of children. Particularly a similar gender effect is expected among children of who started their educational process with a delay and those who did not, children who have repeated grades and those who have not. In this paper we investigate whether the gender gap in school enrolment is alike among on one hand, children who feature late enrolment or who have repeated grades and on the other hand, children with a regular course of study. In the sequel, we refer to the words ”regular” and ”irregular” to identify two groups of children. Regular children are those who complete primary education between the age of 12 and 15 years old. Irregular children are the rest, namely children who have not completed primary education by the age of 15. They have faced at least one of the following irregularities: delayed enrolment, repeating a grade, or interruption in the course of study.

We use data provided by the 2001 Cameroon Living Standards Measurement Survey (LSMS) and examine the gender gap in current school enrolment rates among children aged 12 to 19 years. We start at the age 12 for two reasons: (1) in general primary education is completed around the age of 12, (2) in our data, there is almost no male-female difference in school enrolment rates up to the age of 112 . Indeed, in our database 82% of children aged 6 to 11 years old are enrolled at school and this enrolment rate is split into 83% for boys and 81% for girls3 . To refine the distinction between regular and irregular...
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