Inequalities in access to schooling – what are the trends in Nigeria?

cover_inequalities-in-access-to-schoolingEvidence from three DHS surveys (2003, 2008, and 2013)

This paper looks at trends in access to schooling in Nigeria as shown in three successive Demographic and Health (DHS) surveys (2003, 2008, and 2013). More specifically it investigates the following questions.

  1. Has the impact of household wealth on access to basic education decreased over the past decade? Does wealth influence whether children who are attending school are over-age for their school grade?
  2. Have the gender gaps in access to basic education and over-age school attendance narrowed?
  3. Are there regional differences and if so how have they evolved over time?
  4. Do trends in wealth and gender effects differ across the country?

The analysis replicates the methodology used by Lewin and Sabates for data from 1990 and 2003 and also explores differences in trends between regions. (see Lewin, K. and Sabates, R. (2011). Changing Patterns of Access to Education in Anglophone and Francophone Countries in Sub Saharan Africa: Is Education for All Pro-Poor? CREATE Pathways to Access Series, Research Monograph Number 52. (2011) 1-60. ISBN 0-901881-59-7.)

The following key findings emerged:

  1. Despite the introduction of Free Basic Education, school attendance remains closely related to household wealth and wealth inequalities in access to schooling widened between 2003 and 2013
  2. The proportion of out-of school children stagnated between 2003 and 2013 largely because of increases in underlying wealth inequality. Predicted probabilities of remaining out of school actually declined for all except the very poorest wealth quintiles.
  3. This reduction in the probability of children in a given quintile staying out of school has been particularly visible among female children aged 6 to 15. While a gender gap still persists, it has been closing over the past decade, especially in the North. In fact the chances of children getting into school in this, most disadvantaged, area  slowly improved.
  4. Since 2003 there has been a decrease in the proportion of children who are over-age for their grade that can be observed across all groups.

The full text of the document is available in pdf and word versions

PDF (9MB) / Word (0.9MB)

For inquiries relating to this paper please contact

Program Syntax and Datasets

EDOREN research aims to stimulate and facilitate further work by analysts within and beyond Nigeria, as well as producing useful results directly. This paper furthers that objectives in two ways; firstly section four of the paper suggests further policy relevant areas to explore using the school access variables presented, secondly the STATA files below contain the syntax used to prepare the data for the analysis and run the equations used for the paper.

These .do files were written to run on Stata 11.0 or later. The routine draws on household roster files from successive rounds of the DHS; 2003 –, 2008 –, 2013 – These data files are stored in the “Household Member Recode” section of the DHS program website.

NGPR4CFL (.zip 1MB) is on page

NGPR52FL (.zip 7MB) is on page

NGPR6AFL (.zip 8MB) is on page

Access to the DHS dataset for Nigeria is free but requires users to register at and complete a simple form including a short paragraph describing the study the data will be used for. Please note that this process is handled entirely by the DHS program.




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