My name is Ishita Ahmed and I am a rising senior majoring in International Relations and Economics.  My research this summer will contribute to understanding what education incentive programs should be supported to encourage children in Bangladesh to attend school over joining the labor force.  I am particularly interested in this because as a  Bangladeshi, I have been a firsthand witness to the poverty that forces children to join the labor force to support their families and would like to work towards finding solutions that promote education and greater opportunities for these children.

I will be analyzing the determinants of primary and secondary school enrollment for boys and girls in Bangladesh to understand target areas for education incentive policies.  I will be conduct quantitative analysis with the help of a researcher, Dr. John Hoddinott, at International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), which I will follow up with qualitative observation in Bangladesh.

The first part  involves empirical analysis using IFPRI datasets to determine the probability of child, household, and community level factors contributing to school enrollment, child labor, and girls’ age of marriage. The IFPRI dataset from Bangladesh has not previously been used to analyze these relationships. The second component involves field research in Bangladesh to conduct a case study on a village in the dataset and compare the empirical data to observations on the ground.

The methodology for this research project will be divided into two parts: (a) empirical analysis of survey data, and (b) field observation in Bangladesh. For the empirical part, I will use IFPRI survey data from Bangladesh at the child, household, community, and school levels in 20 villages. The dataset includes variables of the potential determinants of school enrollment. I will analyze these variables to determine their influence on school enrollment, child labor, and girls’ age of marriage.

I will complement this empirical research with field observation in Bangladesh. I plan to visit Saturia, one of the villages included in the IFPRI dataset, to determine how the institutional data aggregated across villages by IFPRI differs from individual village data. During my visit, I will observe the primary and secondary schooling of children, their household characteristics, and the community variables in the aggregate IFPRI dataset. Further, I would like to observe the different education incentive programs implemented in the community to find what variables they are targeting.

I will in Washington, D.C. at IFPRI for the first part of summer and then will travel to Bangladesh in mid-July to do my qualitative observation. I plan on spending the first month at IFPRI doing extensive literature review, after which I will use the appropriate econometric models to test my hypotheses.

I’m excited to find the results of both the big picture analysis using the IFPRI data and then doing a smaller scale on the ground study in Bangladesh, which will be a great way to put a face to the data.

Some of the kids I met on my visit to Bangladesh last summer.

Some of the kids I met on my visit to Bangladesh last summer.


  1. I’m not sure if we’re supposed to pose questions in these comments – maybe that’s inappropriate – but I’ll ask one anyway. What are the incentives you’re considering? Is it money from the government directly to the families? Just curious – Barry