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Gender and household education expenditure in Pakistan

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Abstract:

Pakistan has very large gender gaps in educational outcomes. One explanation could be that girls receive lower educational expenditure allocations than boys within the household, but this has never convincingly been tested. This article investigates whether the intra-household allocation of educational expenditure in Pakistan favours males over females. It also explores two different explanations for the failure of the extant 'Engel curve' studies to detect gender-differentiated treatment in education even where gender bias is strongly expected. Using individual level data from the latest household survey from Pakistan, we posit two potential channels of gender bias: bias in the decision whether to enrol/keep sons and daughters in school, and bias in the decision of education expenditure conditional on enrolling both sons and daughters in school. In middle and secondary school ages, evidence points to significant pro-male biases in both the enrolment decision as well as the decision of how much to spend conditional on enrolment. However, in the primary school age-group, only the former channel of bias applies. Results suggest that the observed strong gender difference in education expenditure is a within rather than an across household phenomenon.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00036840600970252

Affiliations: Department of Economics, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK

Publication date: October 1, 2008

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