Closing Gender Gaps in Education in Africa: The Potential Contribution of Pregnancy-Avoidance Programs

Parfait Eloundou-Enyegue, Cornell University
Joseph M. Stycos, Cornell University
Fatou S. Jah, Cornell University

Plausible arguments suggest that pregnancy-avoidance programs can help close gender gaps in education in Africa, but studies have not quantified these contributions. We use recent education statistics compiled by DHS on 23 African countries to construct schooling life tables and simulate the reduction in gender gaps that would occur if these countries gradually reduced the incidence of pregnancy-related dropouts. We find the following: For these 23 countries as a whole, the female-to-male ratio among secondary school graduates would increase by 18.3 percentage points, i.e., a 36 percent reduction of the current gender gaps. However, payoffs vary substantially across countries. By themselves, pregnancy-avoidance would not close the current gender gap, but their relative impacts are likely to be substantial in several of the countries studied. Policy and research implications are discussed.

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Presented in Session 41: Fertility and Social Inequality in Developing Countries