Climate variability, soil quality, and schooling: Environmental change and educational investments in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda
Climate change and environmental degradation can act as barriers to development among rural populations in low- and middle-income countries. Environmental change impacts agricultural productivity, which in turn affects the ability for households to invest in human capital and improve living standards. This project examines the effects of climate variability and soil quality on schooling outcomes in East Africa. Investments in education serve as an important pathway out of poverty, yet reduced agricultural productivity due to climate shocks or environmental degradation may affect school enrollment if children are required to participate in household income generation, or if households can no longer pay for school-related expenses. We link longitudinal household- and community-level socioeconomic, demographic, schooling, and soil quality data from the Ethiopia Rural Household Survey (ERHS) and the REPEAT (Research on Poverty, Environment, and Agricultural Technologies) project in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda to high-resolution gridded climate data in order to measure exposure to temperature and precipitation anomalies. We then estimate a set of multivariate regression models to understand how climate variability and soil quality impact school enrollment, grade completion, and child labor. These analyses will revealwhether living in a more variable climate affects how households invest in their children’s education; whether exposure to adverse environmental shocks impacts schooling outcomes among agricultural households; and the pathways through which climate variability and environmental degradation affect children’s educational outcomes. This research will offer new insights into the social impacts of global environmental change in sub-Saharan Africa, which can inform policies that address education, socioeconomic development, and poverty reduction in the face of increasing environmental variability.