DP16967 Numeracy, Nutrition and Schooling Efficiency in Sub-Saharan Africa - 1950 to 2000

Author(s): Jörg Baten, Sarah Ferber
Publication Date: January 2022
Date Revised: January 2022
Keyword(s): Africa, height, Numeracy, school efficiency
JEL(s): I15, O15, O40
Programme Areas: Development Economics, Economic History
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=16967

School enrolment has increased at an unprecedented scale in Sub-Saharan Africa, but the expected economic development did not materialize. Therefore, focusing on mathematical skills, we provide estimates for basic numerical abilities of the general population born between 1950 and 2000, assess the efficiency of the educational system and a potential determinant. Our database combines several large surveys (IPUMS, MICS, DHS and Afrobarometer). We find that the spatial distribution of numeracy and schooling efficiency has remained very constant over time. As school feeding programs are highly popular as a development policy while being contested, we focus our analysis of determinants on children's health. Our baseline OLS model indicates a positive relationship, and these results are confirmed by an instrumental variable approach suggesting a causal link. Thus, our results provide support for school feeding interventions and can provide a long-term perspective on this question.