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Citation Information

Type Journal Article - Journal of Human Resources
Title What Did You Do All Day? Maternal Education and Child Outcomes
Volume 47
Issue 4
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2012
Page numbers 873-912
URL http://economics-files.pomona.edu/andrabi/research/MotherChildJHRresubmitNov11.pdf
Does maternal education have an impact on children’s educational outcomes even at the very low levels found in many developing countries? By combining a nationwide census of schools in Pakistan with household data, we are able to use the availability of girls’ schools in the mother's birth village as an instrument for maternal schooling to address this issue. Since public schools in Pakistan are segregated by gender, the instrument affects only maternal education rather than the education levels of both mothers and fathers. We find that children of mothers with some education spend 72 minutes more on educational activities at home compared to children whose mothers report no education at all. Mothers with some education also spend more time helping their children with school work; the effect is stronger (an extra 40 minutes per day) in families where the mother is likely the primary care-giver. We also find that members of the household of mothers with some education spend an extra 4.6 hours per week in helping/reading to the child. Finally, test scores for children whose mothers have some education are higher in English, Urdu (the vernacular) and Mathematics by 0.24-0.35 standard deviations. We find no relationship between maternal education and mother’s time spent on paid work or housework—a posited channel through which education affects bargaining power within the household. Neither do we find a relationship between maternal education and the mother’s role in educational decisions or in the provision of other child-specific goods such as expenditures on pocket money, uniforms and tuition. Our data therefore suggest that at these very low levels of education, maternal education does not substantially affect her bargaining power within the household. Instead, maternal education could directly increase the mother’s productivity or affect her preferences towards children’s education in a context where her bargaining power is low.

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