Missed Opportunities : The High Cost of Not Educating Girls
World Bank Report
QUENTIN WODON, CLAUDIO MONTENEGRO, HOA NGUYEN, AND ADENIKE ONAGORUWA
JULY 2018 :: 64 pages
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.
This 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.
Not Educating Girls Costs Countries Trillions of Dollars, Says New World Bank Report
WASHINGTON, July 11, 2018 – 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…
Today, some 132 million girls around the world between the ages of 6 and 17 are still not in school —75 percent of whom are adolescents. To reap the full benefits of education, countries need to improve both access and quality so that all girls have the opportunity to learn. These investments are especially crucial in some regions, such as Sub-Saharan Africa where, on average, only 40 percent of girls complete lower secondary school. Countries also need policies to support healthy economic growth than will generate jobs for an expanding educated workforce.
Women with secondary education also have a better ability to make decisions in their household, including for their own health care. They are less likely to experience intimate partner violence, and they report higher levels of psychological well-being. They also have healthier children who are less likely to be malnourished and who are more likely to go to school and learn. Finally, better education for girls makes them more likely to participate fully in society and be active members of their community.
Educating girls and promoting gender equality is part of a broader and holistic effort at the World Bank, which includes financing and analytical work to remove financial barriers that keep girls out of school, prevent child marriage, improve access to reproductive health services, and strengthen skills and job opportunities for adolescent girls and young women. Since 2016, the World Bank has invested more than $3.2 billion in education projects benefiting adolescent girls.
The report was published with support from the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, the Global Partnership for Education, and Malala Fund.