Empowering Adolescent Girls in Rural Bangladesh: On the Role of Monetary Incentives and Marriage Norms

Nafisa Halim, Boston University

In recent years, several countries have experimented with the pro-female education policy by offering girls tuition-free instruction, cash rewards, and merit-based scholarships. Such pro-female education policies and programs are expected to reduce pro-male gender gaps by hastening female educational attainment. Have they done so? I address this question by using survey data on secondary school-age girls’ participation in the Female Secondary School Assistance Project (FSSAP) in Bangladesh. Using a bi-variate probit model, I find that education subsidies have little effect upon first-born girls, who face overwhelming pressure to marry and reproduce at a young age, but seem to have a profound effect on offspring of later parities, who tend to stay at school while their older female sibling(s) await marriage—and thereby raise the prospects for human development down the road.

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Presented in Session 8: Romantic Relationships in the Transition to Adulthood