This study examines the impact of mandatory maternal education on child health in Turkey, where a non-trivial fraction of families restricted their daughters’ schooling due to social and cultural barriers. The analysis employs two large data sets and exploits a quasi-experiment involving an education reform that increased compulsory schooling. Results show that an increase in mother's schooling improves child health at birth (as measured by factors such as low birth weight and premature birth) and lowers child mortality. The current study on the intergenerational benefits of compulsory schooling arguably provides the strongest evidence supporting the argument that mandatory female education has substantial nonpecuniary benefits in terms of the health of the offspring in societies where female education is stigmatized. The implications of this research extend beyond girls’ schooling and suggest that compulsory human capital investments in children can correct market failures when families underinvest in their children because of social or cultural barriers.
© 2022 The Authors.
Dursun, B., Cesur, R., & Kelly, I. R. (2022). Mandatory Schooling of Girls Improved Their Children’s Health: Evidence from Turkey’s 1997 Education Reform. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 41(3), 824–858. https://doi.org/10.1002/pam.22404