Prof. Jean-François Kobiané at RIPS

Prof. Jean-François Kobiané, former President of UAPS to present at the Regional Institute for Population Studies (RIPS), University of Ghana Seminar Series seminar

Date: Thursday, 1st December, 2016.

Venue: RIPS, University of Ghana

Topic: Family Size and Children’s Schooling in Urban Burkina Faso: Evidence of the Quality-Quantity Tradeoff.

Summary: Improvements in children’s learning and school attainment are critical to advancing the long-term development prospects of sub-Saharan Africa. Changes in fertility patterns and household composition may have significant consequences for child schooling outcomes and thus, in turn, for economic welfare and development.  The economic literature has argued that parents may decide to limit their fertility so as to be able to invest more in each child known as the ‘quality-quantity’ tradeoff, and thus that declines in family size may lead to more resources per child (the so-called ‘dilution hypothesis’).

The bulk of the evidence that supports the negative relation between family size and children’s education is based on studies in Asia, Latin America and the developed world. The limited evidence from Africa generally fails to show an inverse relationship between family size and children’s schooling in these settings and, in some cases, indicates a non-existent or positive association. Two arguments can explain that situation in Sub-Saharan Africa: i) in a context of high fertility, where family services are very limited, and most of the couples had only limited control over their fertility, it is hard to highlight any anticipation from families in terms of fertility choices and investment in children’s schooling; ii) the data used in the previous studies may not be appropriate to highlight the negative relationship between the number of the siblings and their education level. Another issue related to this is the endogeneity of family size and children’s education as the two variables might be explained by the same exogenous variable that is “parents’ aspirations in terms of family size and children’s wellbeing”.

The research project “Consequences of Family Building Strategies and Household Composition on Children’s Schooling in Urban Burkina” involving researchers from ISSP, the Department of Demography/University of Montreal and the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD, France), has been developed to answer the following central question: in a context of declining fertility such as Ouagadougou, the capital city of Burkina, and an increasing  access to family planning services, is there any anticipation of family preferences, leading to a negative causal association between family size and children’s schooling?

Using original data collected within the Ouagadougou Demographic Surveillance System, the findings reveal a better schooling for children whose mothers had consciously limited their fertility (as compared to children whose mothers had secondary infertility and could not attain their desired family size). This first finding reflects clear evidence supporting the planned behavior hypothesis on child schooling in Ouagadougou. In addition, the negative relationship between family size and children’s schooling appears to be the sum of two mechanisms of more or less equal importance: selective fertility effect and resources dilution effect.