Literacy, Skills and Welfare: Effects of Participation in Adult Literacy Programs

44 Pages Posted: 1 Jun 2006 Last revised: 12 Oct 2011

See all articles by Niels-Hugo Blunch

Niels-Hugo Blunch

Washington and Lee University; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Claus C. Pörtner

Seattle University - Albers School of Business and Economics; Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology

Date Written: August 31, 2009

Abstract

This paper examines the effect of adult literacy program participation on household consumption in Ghana. The adult literacy programs in Ghana are of special interest since they are more comprehensive than standard literacy programs and incorporate many additional topics. We use community fixed effects combined with instrumental variables to account for possible endogenous program placement and self-selection into program participation. For households where none of the adults have completed any formal education we find a substantial, positive and statistically significant effect on household consumption. Our preferred estimate of the effect of participation for households without education is equivalent to a ten percent increase in consumption per adult equivalent. The effects of participation on welfare for other households are smaller and not statistically significant, and become smaller the more educated the household is. We find positive and statistically significant effects of participation on literacy and numeracy rates, although the increases are too small to be the only explanation for the welfare effects. There is also evidence that participants are more likely to engage in market activities and to sell a variety of agricultural goods. Taking account of both direct cost and opportunity cost we argue that the social returns to adult literacy programs are substantial.

Keywords: Literacy, program evaluation, consumption, poverty, Ghana

JEL Classification: D1, I2, I3, J2, O1

Suggested Citation

Blunch, Niels-Hugo and Pörtner, Claus C., Literacy, Skills and Welfare: Effects of Participation in Adult Literacy Programs (August 31, 2009). Economics Development and Cultural Change, Vol. 60, No. 1, pp. 17-66, October 2011, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=905583

Niels-Hugo Blunch

Washington and Lee University ( email )

Department of Economics
Lexington, VA 24450
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.wlu.edu/williams-school/economics/faculty-and-staff/profile?ID=x258

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Claus C. Pörtner (Contact Author)

Seattle University - Albers School of Business and Economics ( email )

901 12th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98122
United States
206-296-2539 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.clausportner.com

Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology ( email )

206 Raitt Hall
Box 353412
Seattle, WA 98195-3412
United States

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