Education attainment inequality in the Cambodian labor force: measurement and policy implications

Interesting Contibutions

Development, when measured exclusively in terms of economic growth, has not been advanced by investments in schooling to the degree anticipated. Developing countries, eager to improve their growth prospects, invested growing percentages of government expenditures in human capital with expectations of amassing an educated and productive labor force earning higher wages and stimulating economic growth. The authors assert that education policies in some countries may have contributed to the concentration of human capital in privileged segments of society increasing education and income disparities. This paper describes and analyzes the distribution of education attainment for the Cambodian labor force using the education Gini coefficient. The education Gini coefficient as a measure of the distribution of education attainment at provincial and district levels, as opposed to an aggregated national indicator used for comparative purposes among countries, is a superior tool for effective policy analysis. Analyzing the distribution of education attainment of smaller political units allows national and regional governments and ministries of education to target policies and programs to specific regions and groups, thus increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of educational reforms. Cambodia has had a turbulent history that resulted in the decimation of the human capital stock of the country during the 1970s and 1980s. The 1998 census data was used by the authors to construct the education Gini coefficients of attainment of the Cambodian labor force for the 24 provinces and municipalities and 180 districts of Cambodia. The analysis extends to highlight the differences between urban and rural populations and between the male and female populations. The authors identify that rural females are the most disadvantaged group and exibit the highest amount of inequality in education attainment. The authors further conclude that there are factors outside of school proximity that impact education inequality as urban females have a more unequal distribution of education attainment than rural males. The authors also identify the provinces and districts with the highest amount of inequality and conclude the paper by identifying future areas of research. 

Keywords: development, economic growth, human capital, education, Cambodia. 

Donald B. Holsinger, John M. Collins, Matthew E. Burt Brian, W. Darsow, Rachel A. Davis, Angelica S, Hagman, Adam H. Clark