The Gendered Impact of Rural Road Improvement on Schooling Decisions and Youth Employment in Morocco
This paper examines the impact of a rural road improvement project on schooling decisions and youth employment in Morocco. Paved rural roads are expected to reduce travel time and costs, allowing additional school choices and increasing the motivation for youth to enter higher education in response to higher returns. On the other hand, immediate earnings opportunities created by new connections may encourage youth to seek paid employment. Thus, the impact of rural road improvement on schooling and youth employment warrants empirical investigation. We employ a difference-in-differences estimation using a household-level dataset with a five-year interval collected under a quasi-experimental setting. First, we do not observe any positive effect on primary school completion for either sex, but we find a positive and significant effect on secondary school attainment or above only for females. Moreover, the higher educational attainment of females is associated with a lower proportion of early marriage. Second, we do not observe any significant effects on self-employment for either sex, but we find a positive and significant effect on wage employment only for males, which is pronounced among the better educated. Our findings reveal sharp gendered differences in the impact of the rural road improvement project, with increased motivation toward better education for females and paid work for males.