The Role of Language of Instruction: The Case of Morocco

University essay from Handelshögskolan i Stockholm/Institutionen för nationalekonomi

Abstract: This paper explores the differential and intergenerational effects of Morocco's 1983 language policy that changed the language of instruction for most subjects in grades 6 to 12 from French to Classical Arabic. Although the policy has faced ongoing criticism over four decades, the plausible heterogeneous effects of the policy on marginalized groups and its intergenerational impact have yet to be investigated in the literature. Exploiting the sudden and progressive implementation of the policy, we study the impact of the language policy using two random samples of Morocco's 1982 and 2004 population censuses. First, using a triple difference approach, we find that girls were relatively positively affected by the policy, with inconclusive heterogeneous effects by mother tongue. Second, exploiting an initial drop in educational attainments due to the language policy, we find that human capital is transmitted from mothers intergenerationally. Our preferred estimate shows that a 1-year increase in a mother's years of schooling leads to a 0.18-year increase in the child's years of schooling mainly through middle and secondary education. Therefore, the negative short-term shock to mothers' educational attainment created by the language policy had a negative effect on the educational attainment of their children.

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