ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Intergenerational Effects of Educating Girls on Empowering the Next Generation

Evidence from Jharkhand

The study was undertaken with financial support from a consortium of funders, including Bank of America Foundation, Chanel, Kiawah Trust, Tata Trusts, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, the David and Lucille Packard Foundation, and the United States Agency for International Development through grants awarded to Dasra, Mumbai; their support is gratefully acknowledged. Funding agencies played no role in designing the study, collecting, analysing, and interpreting the data, writing up this paper, or submitting it for publication. The authors are grateful to Sreya Bhattacharya, Shivani Gupta, Shailja Mehta, and Harihar Sahoo for their comments and support and to Dasra, Mumbai, for permission to use the data.

While it is well-established that maternal education positively impacts infant and child outcomes, less is known about its influence on adolescents. We explore how maternal education affects learning outcomes, agency (self-esteem and mobility), and gender role attitudes of adolescents aged 15–21 from a 2018 survey in Jharkhand. Logistic regression analyses, controlling for confounding socio-demographic factors, including the father’s education, show that effects of maternal education are stronger among girls than boys and, to a lesser extent, among unmarried than married girls. Findings reiterate the long-term intergenerational benefit of female education on empowering daughters during their transition to adulthood.

The importance of educating girls is globally recognised and stressed in the Sustainable Development Goal 4, target 1 (SDG 4.1) global call for the attainment, by 2030, of “complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education” (UNESCO nd). Global evidence confirms that educating women not only benefits their lives but also has favourable intergenerational effects on the health and education of their children (Caldwell 1979; Basu and Stephenson 2005; Vikram and Vanneman 2020; Chen and Li 2009; Aslam and Kingdon 2012). In developing countries, 19.4% of children aged <5 years were underweight (weight-for-age Z score <-2). For decades now, there has been evidence, including from India, of maternal education having a positive association with infant and child health- and care-seeking outcomes. However, more recent studies and evidence reviews have cautioned that effects are not as consistent as previously observed once endogeneity issues are taken into consideration (Mensch et al 2019). There is also evidence from cross-sectional and longitudinal studies on the effect of maternal education on children’s schooling outcomes and cognitive skills (Andrabi et al 2012; Harding et al 2015; Behrman et al 1999; OECD 2001; Chevalier 2004). Some evidence from high-income countries suggests that these effects—on education and occupation—extend into late adolescence and adulthood (Carneiro et al 2012; Dubow et al 2009).

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Updated On : 26th Dec, 2022
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