Working Paper
Gender and Education as Determinants of Household Poverty in Nigeria

The paper examines the linkages between gender of household heads, education and household poverty in Nigeria between 1980 and 1996. Data analyzed were obtained from four national consumer expenditure surveys conducted in Nigeria in 1980, 1985, 1992 and 1996 by the Federal Office of Statistics. Adjustments were made for price differentials over time and across regions of the country. However, only aggregated data for households were available. Per capita expenditure was used as the indicator of poverty, while the unit of analysis was the household. Two poverty lines were set: a moderate poverty line equal to two-thirds of mean per capita household expenditure, and a core poverty line equal to one-third of mean per capita expenditure. The Pα index proposed by Foster, Greer and Thorbecke was used to generate the headcount ratio as well as the depth and severity of poverty. Trends in inequality were analyzed using Gini coefficients and the Theil’s index. Multivariate analysis was used to examine the relationships between gender, poverty and other household variables, including education, for all households as well as for subgroups of male-headed and female-headed households respectively. The analysis showed that poverty increased substantially in Nigeria between 1980 and 1996. The poverty headcount increased from 27.1 percent in 1980 to 47.3 percent in 1985, it declined to 42.7 percent in 1992, but increased to 66.9 percent by 1996. Furthermore, The Gini coefficient and Theil’s Entropy Indices showed that the level of inequality is fairly high in Nigeria. Much of the inequality was within-group rather than between groups for all survey periods. Multivariate analysis for all households showed that female-headed households are more likely to be poor for all survey periods. Education decreased the likelihood of being poor while larger households were more likely to be poor. The two variables were also significant when separate regressions were run for male and female-headed households. These findings suggest that policy attention should be directed at increasing female education and reducing fertility levels since poverty was higher in larger households.