Impact of a Severe Drought on Education: More Schooling but Less Learning
31 Pages Posted: 10 Jun 2020
Date Written: May 15, 2020
From October 2015 to April 2016, Southern Africa experienced one of the severest droughts in history. The drought's intensity varied significantly across locations. This provides a natural experiment to estimate the effect of large, negative agricultural shocks. We consider the impact of this shock on children’s educational outcomes using data from rural Zimbabwe. Those who experienced the drought may suffer from decreases in income and food access. This can affect household resource allocation and schooling decisions while exposing individuals to stress and uncertainty. We find the drought increases the probability that students advance in school, a seemingly positive impact, likely due to lower opportunity costs to education. The drought also led to a significant decline in performance on mathematics assessments and leadership attitudes, suggesting stress or other factors associated with a drought more than offset increases in attendance. This highlights the importance of using multiple indicators in education evaluations.
Keywords: Education, droughts, agriculture, economic development, natural experiment, impact measurement
JEL Classification: I25, Q54, O13, O15
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation