Volume 32 - Article 6 | Pages 183–218

Changing norms about gender inequality in education: Evidence from Bangladesh

By Niels-Hugo Blunch, Maitreyi Bordia Das

Print this page  Facebook  Twitter


Date received:09 Nov 2012
Date published:22 Jan 2015
Word count:9168
Keywords:Bangladesh, decomposition analysis, gender education inequality norms, human capital
Additional files:readme.32-6 (text file, 1 kB)
 demographic-research.32-6 (zip file, 13 kB)


Background: While norms are important for educational attainment, especially in the developing world, there are relatively few studies on this topic. This paper, which explores attitudes toward gender equality in education among Bangladeshis, should therefore be of interest to both academics and policymakers.

Objective: In this paper, we seek to identify which factors affect the norms regarding the education of girls and boys, as well as of women and men, across two cohorts of married women in Bangladesh. In particular, we look at the relative importance of an individual woman‘s own educational background and those of her spouse and other family members in shaping her attitudes toward gender equality in education.

Methods: We analyze a rich household dataset for Bangladesh from the World Bank Survey on Gender Norms in Bangladesh, which was conducted in 2006. We use linear probability models to examine the determinants of gender education norms. We also decompose the intergenerational gender norms gap using the Oaxaca-Blinder composition (total and detailed), taking into account several technical issues related to the computation of standard errors and the use of dummy variables in detailed decompositions.

Results: Education norms were found to differ substantially across cohorts, with women from the younger cohort expressing far more positive views than older female respondents regarding education for both girls and women. The effect of education on norms could be found among both the respondents and their husbands, as well as among the older women in the household. This suggests that educational norms are shared both within married couples and across generations.

Conclusions: Our results indicate that the far-reaching changes in female education in Bangladesh have had equally far-reaching effects on the perceived value of education for girls relative to education for boys.

Author's Affiliation

Niels-Hugo Blunch - Washington and Lee University, United States of America [Email]
Maitreyi Bordia Das - World Bank, United States of America [Email]

Most recent similar articles in Demographic Research

» Going "beyond the mean" in analysing immigrant health disparities
Volume 47 - Article 7    | Keywords: decomposition analysis

» Explaining the MENA paradox: Rising educational attainment yet stagnant female labor force participation
Volume 43 - Article 28    | Keywords: human capital

» Women’s education, infant and child mortality, and fertility decline in urban and rural sub-Saharan Africa
Volume 37 - Article 21    | Keywords: decomposition analysis

» Human capital on the move: Education as a determinant of internal migration in selected INDEPTH surveillance populations in Africa
Volume 34 - Article 30    | Keywords: human capital

» Labor force projections up to 2053 for 26 EU countries, by age, sex, and highest level of educational attainment
Volume 32 - Article 15    | Keywords: human capital