Africa’s Progress in the Education MDGs: Accounting for the Role of Demographic and Economic Change

Sarah Giroux, Cornell University

The Millennium Development Goal of universal primary schooling by 2015 presents a particularly formidable challenge for many African countries.Given limited government resources, gains in enrollments will depend, at least partially, on families targeting resources to schooling. This, in turn, depends on the number children living in high-SES households and the extent to which SES impacts enrollment. Using DHS data, this paper identifies the socio-demographic drivers of recent trends in schooling attainment in 19 African from 1991-2008. We integrate regression findings into a series of decompositions. These decomposition makes it possible to estimate the complementary contributions of demographic transitions, changes in the distribution of children across various SES groups, and broad-based national policy. Beyond this decomposition, the paper uses multi-level models to identify the national level social, economic and demographic characteristics of countries to explain why demographic change has produced more sizable gains in enrollments in some countries but not others.

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Presented in Poster Session 6