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Getting Girls into School: Evidence from a Scholarship Program in Cambodia

Tuesday, January 24, 2006
12.30 - 2:00 pm
Room MC4-W150

Sponsors: Thematic Group on Poverty Impact Analysis, Monitoring and Evaluation; Thematic Group on Social Safety Nets and Transfers
Presenters: Deon Filmer and Norbert Schady (DECRG)
Chair: Margaret Grosh (HDNSP)

We estimate the impact of a program designed to increase the enrollment of girls in lower-secondary school in Cambodia, a low-income country with GDP per capita of about $300. Cambodia is recovering from many years of internal and external strife and its education system is expanding rapidly, but outcomes remain poor: only 27 percent of 15 to 19 years olds had completed the first grade of lower-secondary school in 2000. The program we evaluate selected 93 lower secondary schools and, within each of these schools, 45 girls who were beginning 7th grade were awarded scholarships of $45 each. We use data from all of the applicants to the program, with a follow-up school visit about 18 months after the application date to assess the attendance status of each potential recipient.

Accounting for the fact that recipients were significantly poorer than non-recipients, recipients are more likely to be in school than non-recipients by a margin of between 10 and 30 percentage points, depending on how we treat applicants whose status is unknown (the unadjusted difference is between 3 and 20 percentage points). Reasonable assumptions about attendance among those with unknown status suggest an impact on the order of 20 percentage points. Using regression-discontinuity analysis to account for potential differences in unobserved characteristics yields a similar impact: 16 percentage points. The results indicate that the program was successful at reducing the income gradient in schooling at the lower-secondary level. This result suggests that programs like Conditional Cash Transfers hold promise for low-income settings, even when institutions are relatively weak.

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