Educational Expansion and Health Disparities in a Rapidly Changing Society: The Case of Ethiopia

Jeong Hyun Oh

Basic education improves population health, yet it remains unclear whether expansion of primary education promotes health equity. In this paper, I assess the directional association between educational expansion and disparities in healthcare utilization in Ethiopia. Using decomposition of rates, I first disentangle the effect of educational distribution from the overall increase in healthcare utilization across educational groups. Then, I use the Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition method to investigate a) the determinants of disparities in healthcare utilization and b) changes in these as the proportion of the educated population increases drastically in a ten-year period. Overall, health disparities in Ethiopia decreased over time, yet directional effect of educational expansion varies by region. Economic factors remains persistent determinant of disparities in healthcare utilization. Literacy loses significance as primary education becomes widespread. However, attitudinal difference between educated and uneducated women becomes more significant. Large contribution of unexplained factors signify potential unintended consequences of educational expansion.

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 Presented in Session 8. Economy, Labor Force, Education, & Inequality