Gender Gaps in Educational Attainment in Less Developed Countries

Monica J. Grant, University of Pennsylvania
Jere Behrman, University of Pennsylvania

Conventional wisdom is that gender gaps in schooling discriminating against females in developing countries generally are large, though probably declining. In this paper we re-examine recent gender gaps in schooling in the developing world and come to a more nuanced characterization of their nature, which suggests that the developing countries are becoming more like the developed countries, with gender gaps that increasingly favor, rather than discriminate against, females. Using data from 34 countries with multiple Demographic and Health Surveys, we examine how the gender gaps in current school enrollment and grade completion emerge across the education life course from age 6 to 18. Furthermore, we also examine how these age-specific measures have changed over time, comparing the periods 1990-1999 and 2000-2005. Our initial analyses indicate that among children who have ever attended school, girls have significantly better schooling progress than boys in most regions of the developing world.

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Presented in Session 89: Race and Gender Gaps in Educational Attainment