Demand for informal caregiving and human capital accumulation: Evidence from elderly deaths in Senegal

Abstract

Women carry a disproportionate share of the burden of informal caregiving to functionally dependent relatives such as old age individuals. In developing economies, this burden tends to fall on the shoulders of female adolescents in particular for cultural and economic reasons. This paper uses original panel data from Senegal to evaluate the effect of co-residence with elderly individuals on the educational attainment of female children. To identify this effect, I exploit the deaths of elderly co-residents which occur during the study period in an empirical strategy which relies on triple-differences with child fixed-effects. I show that an event of elderly death is associated with 23% additional education completed over a period of 4 years by affected girls. I present evidence that changes in demand for informal caregiving within the household are one of the mechanisms at play. These results call for increased attention to specific forms of domestic child labor in public policies in order to reduce gender inequalities in education.

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