Gender and Economic Outcomes of African American and African Women

Paper Session

Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017 10:15 AM – 12:15 PM

Hyatt Regency Chicago, Wright
Hosted By: National Economic Association
  • Chair: Cruz Bueno, State University of New York-New Paltz

Can the Elimination of School Fees Close the Gender Gap in Primary Education? Evidence from Rwanda

Aicha Hassane
Bucknell University


Recently, policies in sub-Saharan Africa have focused on increasing access to education. This marks a renewed attention to the important role of education in economic development. One of the strategies implemented to increase access to education is the elimination of financial barriers to school enrollment. Since the elimination of school fees, Rwanda has made progress toward universal primary education. Unfortunately, progress has been uneven across gender and family characteristics. Using both survey data and administrative data from the past ten years, this study analyzes the impact on Rwanda’s free primary education policy on girl’s primary school enrollment. While as anticipated, the policy had a positive impact on enrollment rate, there are large disparities across gender and family characteristics.This supports the hypothesis that opportunity costs of schooling for girls represent a large barrier to school enrollment, which cannot be overcome with the elimination of direct school fees, especially for poorer families. In order to close the gap, specific gender based policies may be necessary.

Are the Consequences of Forced Displacement Gender Neutral?

Isabel Ruiz
Harris Manchester College and University of Oxford
Carlos Vargas-Silva
University of Oxford


The number of forcibly displaced individuals worldwide is at its highest level since World War II (UNHCR, 2015). Unsurprisingly, there is now a growing interest on exploring the economic consequences of hosting refugees. Recent studies have provided new insights on the impact of refugees on labor markets, prices and consumption, among others. Although these papers have provided key insights on the consequences of hosting refugees, there has been less effort on exploring the key differences of these impacts across genders. This paper uses longitudinal data from Tanzania to explore how the consequences of hosting refugees differ across gender. Specifically, we look at Kagera, a region in Tanzania, which was host to a large number of refugees from Burundi and Rwanda in the 1990s and 2000s. We use the Kagera Health and Development Survey (KHDS), a longitudinal survey that contains information about households in different areas of Kagera. We have information on individuals collected in 1991 (i.e. before the forced migration shock), and in 2004 and 2010 (i.e. after the shock). Therefore, we can observe the long-term gender implications of the forced migration shock. Results suggest that local women account for most of the impact of refugees on the labor market outcomes of Tanzanians. There was substantial increase in self-employment for Tanzanian women in areas with large concentration of refugees, but no similar impact for men. Also, women were more likely than men to change the types of crops that they were cultivating after the refuge shock, which coincides well with the anecdotic evidence suggesting that many women lost “control” of their crops. Finally, there was a significant improvement in health outcomes of those women in areas with greater refugee presence. This is likely due to better access to health facilities provided by international organizations.

The changing path to adulthood for girls in six African countries, 1990s to 2010s

Jane Mariara
University of Nairobi
Andy McKay
University of Sussex
Andy Newell
University of Sussex and IZA
Cinzia Rienzo
National Institute of Economic and Social Research


In this paper we study on a comparative basis the school to work transition of young women and young men in six countries in sub-Saharan Africa, and we examine how this has evolved over recent years, based in data collected by Demographic and Health Surveys. We examine educational attainments and the nature of early jobs young people are able to obtain, but we also examine this in relation to marriage and fertility outcomes, factors which are likely to be particularly relevant for young women. Over time educational levels have increased as has access to better jobs, but levels remain low in many countries. We undertake a descriptive analysis of key educational outcomes and access to different types of jobs, and then model correlates of those controlling for individual and household level characteristics, including marital status, presence of children and wealth. Attaining a high level of education is unsurprisingly critical for access to the best jobs, and is also associated young women marrying and having children later.

Marriage Market and Homeownership: Are Race and Education Important?

Kusum Mundra
Rutgers University
Ruth Uwaifo Oyelere
Morehouse College


This paper investigates homeownership among a growing segment of the population-the never married singles. There is a growing trend of buying homes among the single population in the U.S. This trend has been referred to as “Going Solo” and is particularly evident among women. In this paper we propose that the decision to buy a home is strongly influenced by prospects and expectations in the marriage market and we explore the dynamics between the marriage market and the housing market. In particular we explore the role of the marriage market on single women’s homeownership in the U.S. We hypothesize that women may often decide to go solo in this investment decision if the marriage market does not appear promising for them. This will hold strongly for women with steady jobs and income and who qualify for home loans on their own. We address three specific questions. First, do women take into account marriage market prospects in their home buying decision? Second, does the impact of marriage market prospects on home buying decision differ based on education and ethnicity. Third, does age play a role in how marriage market signals are interpreted? We test our proposed hypotheses using the single never married sample from the Current Population Survey (CPS) over the years 2000 - 2013. We focus on never married women in our study as divorced and widowed women are different from those who are never married. Our basic methodology is focused on estimating a reduced form model of homeownership. We control for relevant factors that predict homeownership and test for possible impacts of the marriage market on single women’s homeownership decisions. Specifically our key variables of interest are our measures of marriage market prospects: lagged female and male marriage rates in a woman’s age cohort in her state of residence.
Stephanie Seguino
University of Vermont
Belinda Archibong
Barnard College
Phu Nguyen-Van
BETA, CNRS & University of Strasbourg
Cecilia Conrad
MacArthur Foundation
JEL Classifications
  • I2 - Education and Research Institutions
  • J1 - Demographic Economics