Education in sub-Saharan Africa: a new look at the effects of the number of siblings

Øystein Kravdal, University of Oslo
Ivy A. Kodzi, Ohio State University
Wendy Sigle-Rushton, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

Studies examining the link between the number of siblings and children’s education in Africa have given mixed results. Moreover, the potential for unobserved heterogeneity bias raises questions about how best to interpret any observed association. Using DHS data from 26 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and a multilevel multiprocess model that controls for time-invariant unobserved mother-level characteristics, we find indications that younger siblings increase the likelihood of entering primary school. However, once a child is enrolled, the number of pre-school aged siblings is negatively related to educational progression. The number of siblings older than 15 increases the chance of primary school entry and completion, but has no effect on subsequent transitions. There are also some positive effects of the number of siblings aged 6-15. On the whole, the number of siblings is not an important determinant of children’s education. The results underscore the need to develop detailed measures of sibling groups which capture age variations in school participation and potential contributions to production.

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Presented in Session 45: Quality of life and schooling