Political economy of education and health in Kenya.

Author: Miguel, Edward Andrew

Awarding University: Harvard University, USA

Level : PhD

Year: 2000

Holding Libraries: University Microfilms International ;

Subject Terms: Economic development ; Labour economics ; Education ; Public policy ; Public health ;

Pages: 0

Advisors: Adviser: Kremer, Michael


This research is motivated by the current economic development challenges confronting Africa. sub-Saharan Africa has experienced a dramatic economic collapse during the past two decades, with average per capita income falling sharply in most African countries. This thesis contributes to the literature on African growth by providing original evidence on important and previously examined links between public policy formation, health, and education in Kenya. The region of Kenya that forms the backdrop for this study is typical for Africa in terms of income levels, social divisions, and disease burden, suggesting that the results may have broader implications for other African countries. Chapters 1 and 2 examine the impact of ethnic diversity on local public good provision in rural Kenyan primary schools. The identification of a causal relationship of ethnic diversity on school funding relies on the fact that local ethnic diversity is largely exogenous: ethnic settlement patterns were determined by wars in the l9th century and have since remained stable. Chapter 1 presents the first micro-level evidence that higher levels of ethnic diversity are negatively related to local public goods funding in sub-Saharan Africa. The change from complete ethnic homogeneity to average local ethnic diversity is associated with 30 percent lower average school funding in western Kenya. The theoretical model suggests that pupil sorting among schools introduces an upward bias in ordinary least squares estimates of the relationship between ethnic diversity and school funding, which is found in the data. Chapter 2 (co-authored with Mary Kay Gugerty) discusses the politics of Kenyan local school committees and identifies mechanisms through which ethnic diversity affects schools. We find that parent participation in school activities and teacher attendance are sharply lower in ethnically diverse areas. In the theoretical model, the inability to sanction and contract across ethnic groups implies that public good provision is lower in diverse communities. The important role of social sanctions in sustaining public good provision is supported by evidence from school committee meeting records. Chapter 3 (co-authored with michael kremer) evaluates the impact of an inexpensive public health intervention-a school-based deworming project-on educational outcomes in rural Kenyan primary schools. Medical treatment was randomly assigned across schools. After one year, deworming is associated with large average school participation gains of 5 percent (pupils are considered participants if present on the day of an unannounced visit). The result points to the important role that tropical disease may play in reducing school attainment and labor productivity in Africa.