Gender Biases in Education Investment: The Unexpected Effect of Egypt’s Reduction in Years of Compulsory Schooling
Abstract: We investigate the impact of reducing the cost of education on households’ human capital investment decision in their children by gender. We exploit a unique policy reform in Egypt’s education system which reduced the years of compulsory schooling from nine to eight years. Using data from the Egypt Labor Market Panel Survey we compare treated and non-treated individuals within schools depending on implementation timing. As expected, the reform (mechanically) increased the probability to finish compulsory education. More surprisingly, we find that it also had a strong positive impact on the proportion of students that finished the next education stage and, consequently, increased total completed years of schooling. This secondary effect is entirely driven by changes in girl’s educational outcome and especially by those from poorer households. We further show that this increase in female education investment was rewarded with positive longer term impact on women’s labor market and marriage outcomes.