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used for most of our analysis. Using these data, we document the decreases in family size and increases in parental education that are observed in Brazil from 1977 to 1999. We then describe the evolution of educational measures over the past three decades, pointing out the improved performance of the 1990s. We then analyze the effect of the growth rate of the school-age population, numbers of siblings, and parental schooling on school enrollment using probit regressions.

We estimate a negative effect of both cohort growth and family size on school enrollment. These effects are statistically significant, but are relatively small in magnitude. Interactions with age, gender, and father’s schooling indicate that the group most negatively affected by rapid growth of the school-age population is older boys from poorer households. This supports our theoretical predictions that school enrollment pressures will tend to push out students who are closest to the margin of leaving school. We also estimate positive effects of both mother’s and father’s schooling on enrollment, effects that are considerably larger in magnitude than the effects of cohort size and family size. Using the coefficients from our regressions, we simulate the impact of macro- and micro-level demographic change on school enrollment during the late 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. We find that the growth rates of cohort size of the school-age population tended to reduce school enrollment rates in the 1980s and helped increase enrollment in the 1990s. Decreasing family size and increasing parental schooling both tended to increase enrollment in all periods, with parental schooling having the largest impact. Taking all variables together, the combination of our regression coefficients and the observed changes in independent variables explain more than 60 percent of the observed increase in school enrollment between 1977 and 1999.


This chapter explores the impact on school enrollments of both cohort size and family size. Both of these variables have been the focus of extensive discussion in previous theoretical and empirical research on the impact of rapid population growth in developing countries. Without attempting to thoroughly review this large literature, we briefly focus on some of the studies that provide a background for this chapter.

The possible negative effect of rapid growth of the school-age population on schooling outcomes has often been raised as one of the potential negative consequences of rapid population growth (Jones, 1971; Knodel, 1992; World Bank, 1984). There has not been strong empirical evidence of a negative impact of the size of the school-age population on school outcomes, however. In one of the most comprehensive analyses of the issue, Schultz (1987) analyzed the economics of school finance in the presence of changing size of the

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