Identifying the Role of Education in Socio-Economic Development

University of Roma Tre
Source: RePEc


Food insecurity and illiteracy involve more than 800 million people today. In the proposed paper, I argue that education is a fundamental factor in achieving food security for rural populations in developing countries. I base my arguments on the Human Development Approach, according to which, education is both intrinsically and instrumentally relevant for education. In this paper I focus on the instrumental role of education for food security, by posing the question: Is education, both basic and higher, an essential tool to fight against food insecurity in the rural areas of developing countries? I answer this question by examining the theoretical and empirical causalities between the two variables: education and food security. Traditional Economic theories developed since the 1960s within the endogenous growth theory promoted the concept of human capital, according to which education is considered as a means to ensure economic growth. On the contrary, following Amartya Sen’s human development paradigm, I argue that education can play an instrumental role in two different ways: through economic production and through social change. While there is a literature, albeit short, on the contribution of education on development, this does not occur for food security. In this paper I argue that especially basic education, and not training or vocational education, can improve the capacity of individuals to live a decent life and to escape from the hunger trap. The basic idea is that being educated improves rural people’s capacity to diversify assets and activities, to access information on health and sanitation, to enhance human agency in addition to increasing productivity in the agricultural sector; these are all essential elements to ensure food security in the long-run. The theoretical study is, then, accompanied by an empirical analysis. Based on data taken by the Demographic and Health Survey, I construct a cross-section model, aiming to show the impact of education on “household food insecurity”. Both variables concerning basic and higher education are included to show the best predictors. Food insecurity is, instead, measured by an aggregate indicator, chosen according to available data and theoretical foundations. The model focuses first on rural areas, usually the most disadvantaged by national educational policies, and then on total countries, in order to explain the difference between urban and rural areas, defined urban bias. My aim is to prove that basic education has a good (negative) explanatory capacity of food insecurity. Moreover I seek to specify if higher education gives a statistically significant contribution or not, although probably lower than basic education variables. As a conclusion, the policy implications of my study are the following. I argue that education is both theoretically and empirically proven to be relevant in fighting food insecurity and, therefore, governments and donors aiming to tackle these problems should focus their attention to this sector. Such a policy, indeed, should be made with a specific emphasis on rural areas and keeping in mind the multiple-advantages provided by an educated and skilled society.

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    • "Endogenous growth theory endorsed the perception of human capital according to which educational attainment is considered as a mean to achieve economic growth. But economic development is not the ultimate objective but an intermediate goal to ensure human freedom from deprivation of basic needs of life (Burchi, 2006). Size of the household is the other major variable that can affect food security status of the family. "
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    ABSTRACT: The main objective of the study is to examine the determinants of household's food security in Pakistan using a logistic regression procedure. The analysis is based on micro data taken from Pakistan Social and Living Standard Measurement Survey (PSLM) 2007-08. Five main variables were used out of other demographic indicators that can affect food security. These include: place of residence, dependency ratio, social capital, employment status and educational attainment level of the head of household. Three factors were found to be significant and had expected signs. The analysis found that place of residence (Urban) has a significant and negative effect on household's food security status. Dependency ratio has a significant impact on food security and has expected sign that is, negative. Educational attainment level of household's head beyond intermediate level has also significant and positive impact on food security status of household. While social capital and employment do not effect household's food security significantly. Different policies and programmes are needed to address these characteristics using a direct yet incorporated approach.
    Preview · Article · Dec 2011 · African journal of business management