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The impact of a malaria elimination initiative on school outcomes: Evidence from Southern Mozambique

Laia Cirera, Judit Vall Castello (), Joe Brew, Francisco Saúte and Elisa Sicuri

Economics & Human Biology, 2022, vol. 44, issue C

Abstract: Despite the significant improvements achieved over the last ten years, primary education attainment in Mozambique is still low. Potential reasons acting from the demand perspective include ill health, among other factors. In Mozambique, ill health is still largely linked to malaria, which is a leading cause of outpatient contacts, hospital admissions and death, particularly among under-five and school-aged children. Despite this, in Mozambique and more generally, in malaria endemic countries, the identification and measurement of how improved malaria indicators may contribute to better school outcomes remains largely unknown. In particular, there is a low understanding of the extent to which better health translates immediately into school indicators, such as absenteeism and grades. In this study, we exploit the first year of a malaria elimination initiative implemented in Magude district (Southern Mozambique) that started in 2015, as a quasi-experiment to estimate the impact of malaria on selected primary school outcomes. While malaria was not eliminated, its incidence drastically dropped. We use as control a neighbouring district (Manhiça) with similar socio-economic and epidemiological characteristics. By employing a difference-in-differences (DiD) approach, we examine whether the positive health shock translated into improved school outcomes. Using information from school registers, we generated a dataset on school attendance and grades for 9,848 primary-school students from 9 schools (4 in the treated district and 5 in the control district). In our main specification, a repeated cross-section analysis, we find that the elimination initiative led to a 28% decrease in school absenteeism and a 2% increase in students’ grades. Our results are robust across different specifications, including a panel DiD individual fixed effects estimate on a sub-sample of students. These findings provide evidence on the negative impact of malaria on primary education attainment and suggest remarkable economic benefits consequent to its elimination.

Keywords: Mozambique; Malaria; Primary education; Human capital; Difference-in-differences (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I15 I21 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1016/j.ehb.2021.101100

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