Gender Differences in Demand for Schooling

The comparison of human development indicators in Table 1 shows that Pakistan’s performance is below the average for South Asian countries and below the average for the developing countries. Furthermore, gender differences in human development are also significant within country and across countries. For example, in 1999, differences in male and female literacy rate was 24 points in Pakistan, higher then the difference in less developed countries (equalling 15 points). [See HDC (2001)]. Similarly, within Pakistan, male literacy rate increased from 35 percent in 1980-81 to 56.6 percent in 1998-99 whereas female literacy rate increased from 16 percent in 1980-81 to 32.6 percent in 1998-99. This shows that despite doubling of female literacy rate, the gap between male and female literacy rate widened from 19 percent in 1980-81 to 24 percent in 1998-99. Similarly, another indicator of human capital, i.e., the net enrolment rates at primary level exhibited a declining trend in 1990s, particularly among males. An important reason for the decline could be rise in poverty. Table 2 shows a sustained increase in net enrolment ratio with income, and the positive income effect is higher in urban areas. In rural areas, the enrolment rate increases with income but there is slight decline in female enrolment rate at the highest income level. Thus, despite rapid rise in female enrolment the gender, differences persist and income is the main factor affecting demand for education.