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Flying Ducks? Girls’ Schooling in Rural Vietnam

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Using the Vietnam Living Standards Survey 1992–93, this paper has found significant gender differences in children's education – parents are less likely to keep girls in school. The method of Doiron and Riddell (1994) is applied to decompose the predicted probability gap of being in school between boys and girls. Their method takes into account the nonlinear nature of the probit model. The decomposition result suggests that most observed gender differences in the predicted probability gap may be driven by discrimination, which may be due to Confucian values. Girls are colloquially referred to as ‘flying ducks’ as they are regarded as a loss to the family upon marriage. Cultural values could shape the parents' perception of the rate of the children's income transfer to the parents. If the cultural norms dictate that sons provide old–age security to the parents, while daughters marry and provide no support to the parents, parents may not be willing to invest as much in girls' education relative to boys. Promotion of gender equality and reduction of the reliance on sons in providing old–age security to parents are necessary to ensure that girls have equal opportunities to receive education.

JEL classification: I2; J16; J71
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Keywords: Children's schooling; Vietnam; discrimination; gender differences

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Australian National University

Publication date: December 1, 2001

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