Effects of the Number and Age of Siblings on Educational Transitions in Sub-Saharan Africa



Studies examining the link between number of siblings and level of education attained by children in Africa have produced mixed results. This study draws on Demographic and Health Survey data from 26 sub-Saharan African countries and employs a multilevel multiprocess model that controls for time-invariant unobserved mother-level characteristics. We find indications that having younger siblings increases the likelihood of entering primary school; however, once a child is enrolled, having pre-school aged siblings is negatively associated with educational progression. Having a greater number of siblings older than age 15 increases the likelihood of primary-school entry and completion but has no effect on subsequent educational transitions. Some positive effects of having a greater number of siblings who are aged 6–15 are also observed. Girls are more adversely affected by having young siblings than are boys, but they benefit more than do boys from having siblings who are older than age 15. On the whole, the effects are not very strong, however.