DP13497 | Intergenerational Mobility in Africa

Publication Date


JEL Code(s)


Programme Area(s)


We examine intergenerational mobility (IM) in educational attainment in Africa since independence, using census data from 26 countries. First, we map and characterize the geography of IM. There is substantial variation both across and within countries with differences in literacy of the old generation being the strongest correlate of IM. Inertia is stronger for rural, as compared to urban, households and present for both boys and girls. Second, we explore the correlates of mobility across more than 2,800 regions. Colonial investments in the transportation network and missionary activity are associated with upward mobility. IM is also higher in regions close to the coast and national capitals as well as in rugged areas without malaria. Upward mobility is higher and downward mobility is lower in regions that were more developed at independence, with higher urbanization and employment in services and manufacturing. Third, we identify the effects of regions on educational mobility by exploiting within-family variation from children whose families moved during primary school age. While sorting is sizable, there are considerable regional exposure effects.