Do Targeted Stipend Programs Reduce Gender and Socioeconomic Inequalities in Schooling Attainment? Insights From Rural Bangladesh
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Social investment in schooling in low-income countries has increased greatly in the 1990s and 2000s because of the robust associations among schooling and demographic, economic, and health outcomes. This analysis investigates whether targeted school-attendance stipend programs succeeded in reducing gender and socioeconomic inequalities in school attainment among a sample of the rural poor in Bangladesh. Multivariate analyses find that targeted stipend programs helped to reduce the gender attainment gap. Females had an increased probability of participating in stipend programs, and returns to stipend participation were significantly higher for females. However, stipend programs failed to reduce the relative achievement gap between children of different socioeconomic backgrounds: low socioeconomic status (SES) was associated with a decreased probability of stipend participation, and stipend-related schooling gains for lower-SES females were matched by comparable gains for higher–SES females. Meanwhile, there was no significant association between stipend participation and schooling attainment for males.
KeywordsSchooling School stipends Families Bangladesh
Background support for this study was provided by the grant Team 1000+ Saving Brains: Economic Impact of Poverty-Related Risk Factors for Cognitive Development and Human Capital “0072-03” provided to the Grantee, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania by Grand Challenges Canada. I am grateful to Jere Behrman for support and guidance throughout the development of the article. Pat Sharkey, Larry Wu, Florencia Torche, Paula England, Sara Duvisac, Abigail Weitzman, Monica Caudillo, Wahid Quabili, and Agnes Quisumbing provided helpful comments and assistance. I benefited from comments from participants of the American Sociological Association annual meeting, Population Association of America annual meeting, Sociology of Development annual meeting, NYU inequality workshop, and NYU graduate student conference.
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