The Effect of Malaria on Female Educational Attainment: Evidence from Sri Lanka

Adrienne M. Lucas, Brown University
David N. Weil, Brown University

Between 1935 and 1963 malaria was almost successfully eradicated from Sri Lanka with incidence falling from 97% to 0.0002%. By combining pre-existing regional variations in malarial intensity and the national anti-malaria public health intervention, we are able to identify malaria’s effect on female educational attainment and characteristics that are thought to be influenced by it. Our estimates suggest that every one percentage point decrease in the malaria spleen rate, a measure of longstanding malaria, leads to an increase of 0.4 years of education, a 3 percentage point increase in the probability of being literate, a decrease of 0.2 births per woman, and a 4 percentage point increase in the fraction of ever-born children per woman who survive to age 5. During the period under study, the decline in malaria explains approximately one half of the increase in the years of female education and 40% of the increase in female literacy.

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Presented in Poster Session 2: Education, Gender, Religion, Language and Culture