School of Thought: The Role of Formal Education in Shifting Opinions of Female Genital Cutting in Burkina Faso

Gender-biased harmful practices are prevalent across many parts of the world. Once these practices have become part of the cultural landscape, they are very difficult to alter without external stimuli. Whether those stimuli can be targeted toward individuals or they must be targeted toward the community as a whole is heavily debated. I study the effect of an individual-level intervention on the perceptions of an entrenched, gender-biased, cultural practice. Specifically, I study the effect of education on the perpetuation of female genital cutting (FGC) in Burkina Faso. Using a pseudo panel of 36,000 women born between 1949 and 1995, I find that educated women are 30 percent more likely to oppose the practice than uneducated women. Additionally, women who support the practice are more than twice as likely to have a daughter who has undergone FGC, and I find suggestive evidence that education raises a woman’s bargaining power in the household. Together, my findings suggest that an individual-level intervention could reduce the prevalence of an entrenched cultural practice in the subsequent generations.

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JEL Codes:
D19; I15; O10
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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2020-10-28

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