A recent story by BusinessWeek describes the value of a country focusing on the education of its female populace.
Some interesting statistics:
- When a girl in the developing world receives seven or more years of education, she marries four years later, on average, and has 2.2 fewer children.
- An extra year in primary school statistically boosts girls' future wages by 10% to 20%, and every additional year a girl spends in secondary school lifts her income by 15% to 25%. The size of a country's economy is in no small part determined by the educational attainment and skill sets of its girls.
- Young women have a 90% probability of investing their earned income back into their families, while the likelihood of men doing the same is only 30% to 40%.
- A girl's school attainment is linked to her own health and well-being, as well as reduced death rates: For every additional year of schooling, a mother's mortality is significantly reduced, and the infant mortality rate of her children declines by 5% to 10%.
What does all of this mean? Essentially, with a bit of government investment into women’s education, countries could seriously boost their economy. Take Kenya, for example:
1.6 million girls drop out of school each year. If they finished their secondary education, by the numbers, these women could make 30% more money and contribute $3.2 billion more to the Kenyan economy, rather than cost it $500 million a year like the 204,000 adolescent mothers do. Further estimates indicate that girls in Kenya, over their lifetime, could lift the nation’s economy by nearly $55 billion by avoiding the pitfalls associated with a lack of a secondary education.
The moral of the story to developing countries is that if you want to boost your economy, focus on getting your female populace educated. The moral of the story to the international businessperson is that if you’re wondering which areas of the world are primed for the most economic growth, the policies of the government towards female education can most certainly be a good indicator.