Distributional Dimension of Educational Access and Attainment in Ghana

Student thesis: Phd


This thesis investigates the unequal distribution of educational access and attainment in Ghana. Inequality in educational access and attainment between the poor and the non-poor, and between male and female has been a major policy concern in Ghana. To investigate this concern, we use 2003 and 2008 Ghana Demographic Health Survey (GDHS) datasets and employ multivariate regression model and concentration index decomposition framework to analyse the datasets on key educational variables. This research constitutes the first attempt to quantify the contributions of key socioeconomic factors that might account for educational inequalities in Ghana and the findings can aid effective policy design in Ghana.The first research question explores key socioeconomic factors that are thought to influence primary and secondary education access and attainment, and the extent of disparities in the educational outcomes in Ghana. Household wealth, educational attainment levels of household heads, and female household head appear to be the most important determining factor in explaining the disparity in children's school attendance and completion in Ghana. We also find variations in educational access and attainment between children from poor and non-poor households at different levels of education and this may constitute evidence of households' continuing financial burden in educating children and the probable ineffectiveness of the state in transcending those economic differences. The second research question addresses the extent to which gender disparities in educational access and attainment increase or decrease with household wealth distribution in Ghana. We find that gender inequality is larger at lower household wealth levels than at higher levels. At higher household wealth distribution levels, household wealth tends to favour female children's educational access and attainment. Finally, the third research question examines contributions of key sources of educational inequalities and explores welfare groups that benefitted disproportionately from education expansion and education policy interventions in Ghana. We find that household wealth and household head educational attainment levels among others contribute substantially to educational inequality in Ghana and non-poor households benefitted more than the poor households in terms of access to, and attainment of both primary and secondary education. This research provides three main contributions to the literature on distributional dimension of educational access and attainment. First, it expands the discussion on the effectiveness of government of Ghana's education policy interventions on educational outcomes in Ghana. Second, it brings into the fore the impact of key socioeconomic factors on gender disparity in educational access and attainment which will help to identify where intervention is most appropriate and effective in reducing gender disparity gap in education as well as strengthening female empowerment. The third contribution is an innovation by applying concentration index decomposition framework to quantify contributions of key sources of educational inequalities. The contributions of key sources will further expand the existing knowledge on the distributional dimension of educational access and attainment in Ghana and other developing countries in terms of formulating and designing policy interventions to address inequity in educational access and attainment.
Date of Award1 Aug 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorDavid Lawson (Supervisor) & Ralitza Dimova (Supervisor)


  • Educational access and attainment; Educational inequality; Concentration index decomposition; Gender inequality

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