Resource Constraints and Educational Attainment in Developing Countries

Colombia 1945-2005

Published in: Journal of Development Economics, v. 99, no. 1, Sep. 2012, p. 80-91

by Juan Esteban Saavedra

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In this paper, I investigate the extent to which secondary and higher education supply constraints affected aggregate educational attainment in Colombia for cohorts born between 1945 and 1981. As was the case in many other countries after World War II, in Colombia, industrialization, urbanization and rapid population growth increased the demand for education and the return to schooling. Although educational expenditures from the central government and the states increased after the 1950s, secondary and tertiary schools' per-pupil inputs declined. Using variation in cohort size within states and over time to proxy for changes in education demand, I find that for cohorts born after 1945, a 10% increase in cohort size reduced high school completion rate by 3%, the college completion rate by 4% and average years of schooling by 1%. Compared to women's educational attainment rates, changes in cohort size had greater negative effects on men's rates.

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