Elias Papaioannou, London Business School

"Intergenerational Mobility in Africa"


We examine intergenerational mobility in educational attainment in Africa, using census data covering close to 20 million people in 23 countries. We define the former as the likelihood that children of uneducated parents complete (at least) primary schooling. In the  first part of the paper, we characterize the geography of intergenerational mobility across and within countries. The observed cross-sectional heterogeneity is tightly and positively linked to the level of literacy of the “old generation" in the region, suggesting strong persistence of initial conditions. Inertia is stronger for rural, as compared to urban, households and present both for boys and girls. In the second part, we identify the causal effects of regions on educational mobility exploiting within-family variation from migrant households. The analysis reveals that while sorting is sizeable, there are large regional exposure effects. In the third part, we explore the geographic, historical, and contemporary correlates of intergenerational mobility across regions. Colonial investments, in terms of the transportation infrastructure, and some geographic features correlate strongly with educational mobility beyond their relationship with the level of schooling among the old.

Link to paper

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