No. 5 The Structure of Social Disparities in Education: Gender and Wealth
By Deon Filmer

This paper uses a set of internationally comparable household datasets (the Demographic and Health Surveys—or DHS) to investigate the ways in which gender and wealth interact in generating within country inequalities in educational enrollment and attainment. In addition, a multivariate analysis is carried out to assess the partial relationship between educational outcomes and gender, wealth, household characteristics (including the education of adults in the household) and community characteristics (including the presence of schools in the community). There are four main findings. First, a large female disadvantage in education is found in countries in Western and Central Africa, North Africa, and South Asia. Second, while gender gaps are large in a subset of countries, wealth gaps are large in almost all the countries studied. In addition, in some countries the interaction of gender and wealth result in large gaps in educational outcomes. Third, the education of adults in the household has a significant impact on the enrollment of children in all the countries studied, and the effect of female adult education is larger than that of males in some, but not all, of the countries studied. Fourth, the presence of a primary and a secondary school in the community has a significant effect on enrollment in some countries only (notably the Western and Central African countries) and the effect does not appear to systematically differ by gender of the child.

This paper is part of a series of papers on selected topics commissioned for the forthcoming Policy Research Report(PRR) on Gender and Development. The PRR is being carried out by Elizabeth King and Andrew Mason and co-sponsored by the World Bank’s Development Economics Research Group and the Gender and Development Group of the Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Network. Printed copies of this paper are available free from the World Bank, 1818 H Street NW, Washington, DC 20433. Please contact Tai Lui Tan, in room MC3-624A or at Comments are welcome and should be sent directly to the author(s) at

The full-length paper is available in PDF format.