GIGA Seminar in Socio-Economics

Expanding Access to School in Nigeria: Impact on Marital Outcomes

Lecture by Sarah Deschênes on joint work with Rozenn Hotte




12:00 noon (CET)


01:15 p.m. (CET)

View of the Mumbai skyline with the Bandra slum
© / f9photos
View of the Mumbai skyline with the Bandra slum
© / f9photos

  • The paper uses the Universal Primary Education Program (UPE) implemented in Nigeria in 1976 to investigate the effect of wife and husband’s education on women’s empowerment. We combine regional disparities in baseline levels of enrollment with the timing of the program and the traditionally high age difference between partners to disentangle the impact of wife’s education from husband’s education. We find that the UPE had heterogeneous effects in the South compared to the North of Nigeria. In the South, women achieve more gender-equal marriages by delaying marriage by 1.23 years, and by reducing the age gap with their husband by 2 years. These women also maintain a stable education gap with their husband. In the North, unions’ characteristics remain unchanged except for the probability to marry a polygamous partner that increases when husbands are treated. In both regions, women are better off as the UPE decreases women’s tolerance of domestic violence and increases their say in decision-making (in the South only) but the mechanics of the effects differ: Northern women are made better off by the education of their husband’s whereas Southern women are better off thanks to the combined effects of their own education and their husband’s.

    Speaker: Sarah Deschênes (Postdoctoral Fellow at the Economics Department of Northwestern University)

    Attendance: If you like to participate in the seminar (online or on-site), please send an email beforehand to:


    GIGA, Neuer Jungfernstieg 21, 20354 Hamburg, Germany and online



    We offer our events digitally or in hybrid setting. We monitor the current pandemic situation and act accordingly. We look forward to your participation.


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