Maternal schooling, child mortality, and pathways of influence: evidence from a quasi-experiment in Ethiopia, Malawi, and Uganda

Liliana Andriano, University of Oxford
Christiaan W. S. Monden, University of Oxford

Since the 1980s the demographic literature has suggested that maternal schooling plays a key role in determining children’s survival chances in low and middle income countries. However, no studies have successfully distinguished between the causal and non-causal relationship between maternal education and child survival and to overcome the endogeneity problems inherent in this relationship. In order to identify the causal effect of maternal education on child survival we explore exogenous variation in maternal education induced by schooling reforms in the second half of the 1990s in Ethiopia, Malawi, and Uganda, which introduced Universal Primary Education. We use a fuzzy regression discontinuity design and the Demographic and Health Surveys data to test if increased schooling improved children’s survival chances across all three countries. We also seek to explore which are the pathways of influence explaining the effect of maternal education on child survival among attitudes towards modern health services, personal illness control, health knowledge, empowerment, nutrient deficiency, biodemographic factors, and environment contamination and characteristics. Additionally, we examine if the intervening mechanisms are common across contexts or country-specific.

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Presented in Session 99: Influences of advantages and disadvantages across the life course on mortality