Monitoring Trends in Female Education in Low and Middle Income Countries: Coherence across Data Sources

Kristen Jeffers , University of Minnesota
Albert Esteve-Palos, Centre d’Estudis Demogràfics (CED), Universitat de Barcelona

Education is widely recognized as a key instrument of individual agency and progress across various domains of social life. As a result, national and international policy agendas include educational expansion and the closing of the gender gaps in education as key objectives. Monitoring of such progress at an international scale and for low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) requires comparable data across countries and over time. Population censuses are the primary source for measuring educational attainment in LMICs but censuses are conducted infrequently and access to the individual-level data required to construct comparable measures across time and place is restricted for many countries. The policy and scholarly community use large-scale household surveys for more timely and accessible data. It is not clear, however, how interchangeable estimates provided across these sources are because systematic analyses of comparability are unavailable. This study responds to this challenge by examining coherence in estimates of educational attainment across the three main repositories of international population microdata: IPUMS International, the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), and the Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS). The paper examines trends in educational attainment among women age 25 to 29 in 75 countries between 1960 and 2017. Coherence analysis of more than 500 census and survey observations reveals high levels of consistency overall with heterogeneity by data source and region.

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 Presented in Session 37. Gender Perspectives. Session dedicated to the memory of Antonella Pinnelli