Title page for ETD etd-012699-214835

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Gibbison, Godfrey A.
Author's Email Address gibbison@vt.edu
URN etd-012699-214835
Title Family Structure and Human Capital Formation in Jamaica
Degree PhD
Department Economics (Arts and Sciences)
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Alwang, Jeffrey R. Committee Co-Chair
Salehi-Isfahani, Djavad Committee Co-Chair
Mills, Bradford F. Committee Member
Murphy, Russell D. Committee Member
Rosenthal, Stuart Committee Member
  • family structure
  • educational attainment
  • endogeneity
Date of Defense 1998-12-08
Availability mixed

In the last 30 years the Jamaican government has invested substantially in

education at the primary and secondary levels by providing a large number of

inputs, including trained teachers. Still, many children are illiterate after

completing primary school, and a large number of teenagers leave secondary

school without acquiring a skill. The educational attainment of Jamaican

children is low in absolute terms, and in comparison to other Caribbean nations.

This breakdown in the uptake of education cannot be explained by lack of

physical inputs. This dissertation focuses on the dynamics of the household by

posing the question: Is the educational achievement of children with unmarried

mothers different than that of children with married mothers? This is a

potentially important question for Jamaica, since 80% of children are born out

of wedlock and the probability of having married parents at age 15 is just 50

percent. It was found that children whose mothers are unmarried had lower

cognitive achievement than children with married mothers, that in certain cases

the disparity accentuates over time, and that children with unmarried mothers

are also less likely to be attending high school.

A large number of women in Jamaica complete most or all of their fertility out

of wedlock. Yet, many of these women enter marriages at a late age (between 35

and 50 years old). These marriages sometimes evolve from current domiciliary

relationships, but quite often they do not. In this study, one possible

motivation for these late marriages is explored. It is proposed that women with

smart children enter late marriages as a way of securing funds to invest in the

education of these children. They are motivated to do so because, in the

absence of old-age protection in Jamaica, smart children are a good way to store

consumption for one's old age. This hypothesis was supported by the data.

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