Schooling and Disadvantage in Laos

Elizabeth M. King, World Bank Group
Dominique van de Walle, World Bank Group

Over the last 40 years, Laos made steady progress in educational outcomes, as evidenced by higher enrollment rates, literacy, and schooling years completed. This progress has been partly a result of government education policy because economic growth alone, as measured by the trend in per-capita consumption, would have predicted less progress than what was achieved. However, educational progress has not been equal across population groups, revealing significant disparities by residence, gender, ethno-linguistic affiliation and income, and how these attributes interact. Laos, one of the poorest countries in Asia, is very ethnically diverse; ethnic groups speak distinct languages, presenting the education system with a difficult challenge. The paper examines educational progress and inequalities, and the factors that explain enrollment and attainment. The analysis draws primarily on data from the Lao Expenditure Consumption Survey for 2002/3, a nationally representative household survey that covered 8,100 households, as well as a linked school survey.

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Presented in Session 166: Race and Ethnicity in Comparative Perspective