Job Market Paper
Access to Education and Family Formation: Evidence from University Expansion in Nigeria
How do greater education opportunities impact family formation? Using the rapid university expansion in Nigeria in the 2000s, I examine the influence of higher education on the marriage market, fertility and child development outcomes of women. My empirical analysis combines a self-constructed dataset on the timing and location of university openings with administrative and survey data, and uses a difference-in-differences estimator that exploits the regional and cohort-wise variation in exposure to the university expansion. I find that university openings improved years of schooling and educational attainment among school-aged women. It also delayed the timing of first marriage and childbirth of women. In addition, women had fewer births, and their children were more likely to have better development outcomes. I show suggestive evidence that these outcomes are driven by increased autonomy - women delay sexual activity, and are more likely to work, use contraception and have the final say over important decisions.