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Melvin Stephens, Estimating Program Benefits

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Post-Cairo Population Policy: Does Promoting Girl's Schooling Miss the Mark?

Publication Abstract

Knodel, John E., and Gavin W. Jones. 1996. "Post-Cairo Population Policy: Does Promoting Girl's Schooling Miss the Mark?" Population and Development Review, 22(4): 683-702.

One emphasis of the new population paradigm that emerged at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo concerns gender inequality in education and the need to promote girls' schooling at the secondary level, both as a goal of human development and as a means to encourage lower fertility in developing countries. A critical weakness of this approach to population and development policy is that it fails to address the socioeconomic inequality that deprives both boys and girls of adequate schooling. Such unbalanced attention to one dimension of inequality detracts from the attention accorded to other dimensions. Moreover, while female disadvantage remains an important feature of educational access in some regions, there are numerous countries, even within the developing world, where the gender gap in education is absent or modest, and in almost all countries it has been diminishing substantially over the last few decades. By contrast, the authors contend, inequality in education based on socioeconomic background is nearly universal and, in most cases, more pronounced than gender inequality. Data from various developing countries, especially Thailand and Vietnam, document this situation.

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