Do recipient countries with persistent gender inequality in schooling receive more aid for education? This paper explores two hypotheses based on aid allocation: need and merit. It finds that female leadership appears to have played a marginal role in the allocation of aid for education. It also finds no evidence of a needs-based allocation of aid for education; aid allocation appears to have rewarded countries with more years of schooling of all children, or specifically of girls, rather than allocating aid for education on the basis of general or gender-specific needs.
Specifically, the paper tests two hypotheses: whether recipient countries with persistent gender inequality in schooling receive more aid for education; and analyses whether female leadership of the relevant ministries in the donor countries results in better targeted aid by directing aid for education to where girls receive less schooling than boys. Data are drawn from OECD’s CRS and covers the period from 1995 – 2011. The sample consists of 23 DAC countries – Czech Republic and Iceland are excluded as they only recently became members – and 123 recipient countries. Countries with very small populations of less than 250,000, high-income countries and countries that lack disaggregated data are excluded from the 123.
- Higher average years of schooling and smaller gaps between girls and boys schooling are associated with higher levels of aid allocation.
- Results for the amounts of aid given to eligible recipients also point to the performance-based allocation of aid for education once the general need (in terms of average per capita income) is controlled for.
- Assessing whether performance-based aid for education suggested in this paper is more effective in expanding schooling for boys and girls is beyond the scope of the paper.
- There are minor gender differences in the allocation behaviour between female and male leaders. While female leaders appear to reward achievements in post-secondary schooling more strongly than male leaders, male leaders appear to reward achievements in post-secondary schooling more strongly. This challenges previous research which suggests that female political representation shapes aid policies in donor countries. However, this may be because this study focused on the education sector and female leadership in the ministry in charge of aid allocation rather than aid allocations or political representation more broadly.
The paper highlights three future areas for research which would offer illuminate the assumption that female leadership, broadly defined, is more relevant to the generosity of the donor and overall size of the aid budget than to allocation of a given amount of sector-specific aid across recipient countries:
- the representation of women in political, societal and commercial high-level decision-making bodies;
- the degree to which male political leaders are committed to gender equality; and
- the extent to which the policy framework is shaped by gender concerns (e.g. the educational system, labour market policy and social protection).