Differentials in Educational Attainment in Nigeria: Isolating the Effects of Ethnicity

Blessing Mberu, Brown University
Roland Pongou, Brown University
Olumide Taiwo, Brown University

Ethnicity has long been identified as the single most important determinant of educational attainment in Nigeria. Variation in schooling has been explained by differences in cultural values and the differential supply of education across regions dating back to the colonial period. This study seeks to isolate the effect of ethnic identity using data from the 1999 and 2003 Nigeria Demographic and Health Surveys. To net out the historical differentials associated with educational supply, we estimate region fixed-effects models and restrict our analysis to non-migrants. The results show minimal impacts on ethnic differences. Further, we find that part of the gap in educational attainment is accounted for by individual, household and community factors, but the effect of ethnicity remains significant and grows with age. Our findings challenge the argument that ethnic differences in schooling are attributable to the historical differential supply of education. Against the history of Government policies and programs addressing educational inequities in Nigeria, we conclude that ethnic roots of educational imbalance remains an issue yet to be resolved, underscoring the importance of further research in understanding the mechanism that produce educational imbalance along ethnic lines.

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Presented in Poster Session 3