Parental Marital Status and Children’s Education in Developing Countries

Laurie DeRose, University of Maryland
Paul Corcuera Garcia, Universidad de Piura
Marga Gonzalvo, Universitat Internacional de Catalunya
Laura H. Lippman, Child Trends
Andres Salazar, Universidad de La Sabana
Claudia Tarud, Universidad de Los Andes
Camille Whitney, Stanford University

Research based on the United States and other developed countries suggests that children in intact, two-parent households typically have better educational outcomes than children in single-parent and step-family households. However, living with two biological parents does not have a consistently beneficial effect on children’s secondary school enrollments across developing countries (Wilcox et al. 2009). While cultural differences between countries (e.g., degree of extended family involvement in schooling) may explain some of this inconsistency, this paper tests the hypothesis that marriage matters. More specifically, we test whether parental marital status affects secondary school enrollments both for children residing with both biological parents (cohabitation versus marriage) and for children residing with one biological parent (single versus married). We also determine whether incorporating marital status produces more consistent estimates of the effect of family structure across disparate developing country settings.

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Presented in Poster Session 6