World Bank:The High Cost of Not Educating Girls
Limited educational opportunities for girls and barriers to completing 12 years of education cost countries between $15 trillion and $30 trillion in lost lifetime productivity and earnings, says a new World Bank report launched on the eve of the July 12 United Nations Malala Day.
According to Missed Opportunities: The High Cost of Not Educating Girls
, less than two thirds of girls in low-income countries complete primary school, and only one in three girls completes lower secondary school. On average, women who have a secondary education are more likely to work and they earn almost twice as much as those with no education.
Other positive effects of secondary school education for girls include a wide range of social and economic benefits for the girls themselves, their children and their communities. These include near-elimination of child marriage, lowering fertility rates by a third in countries with high population growth, and reducing child mortality and malnutrition.
Fact sheet: Cost-of_not_educating_girls_July 10 2018
According to the report
, too many girls drop out of school prematurely, especially in low income countries. Low educational attainment for girls has negative consequences not only for them, but also for their children and household, as well as for their community and society.
The study documents the potential impacts of educational attainment for girls and women in six domains: (1) earnings and standards of living; (2) child marriage and early childbearing; (3) fertility and population growth; (4) health, nutrition, and well-being; (5) agency and decision-making; and (6) social capital and institutions.
The results are sobering: the potential economic and social costs of not educating girls are large. Low educational attainment reduces expected earnings in adulthood, and it depresses labor force participation, leading to lower standards of living. When girls drop out of school prematurely, they are much more likely to marry as children, and have their first child before the age of 18 when they may not yet be ready to be wife and mothers.
This in turn is associated with higher rates of fertility and population growth, which in low income countries are major impediments for reaping the benefits of the demographic dividend. Low educational attainment is also associated with worse health and nutrition outcomes for women and their children, leading among others to higher under-five mortality and stunting.
Girls who drop out of school also suffer in adulthood from a lack of agency and decision-making ability within the household, and in society more generally. They are also less likely to report engaging in altruistic behaviors such as donating to charity, volunteering, or helping others.
Finally, when girls and women are better educated, they may be better able to assess the quality of the basic services they rely on and the quality of their country’s institutions and leaders.
These negative impacts have large economic costs, leading among others to losses in human capital wealth (future lifetime earnings of the labor force) estimated at $15 trillion to $30 trillion. Educating girls is not only the right thing to do: it is also a smart economic investment.
By James Ratemo, firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @KenyaCurrent