Social constraints and women's education: Evidence from Afghanistan under radical religious rule

Abdul G. Noury, Biagio Speciale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We analyze how growing up under Taliban rule affects Afghan women's educational attainments and subsequent labor market and fertility outcomes. While in power from 1996 to 2001, the Taliban ruled a large portion of the Afghan territory and introduced a ban on girls’ education. Using data from the National Risk and Vulnerability Assessment survey, we rely on the fact that, depending on their year of birth and province of residence, individuals differed in the number of years they were exposed to the Taliban government while of school age. Our difference-in-differences estimates show that an additional year of exposure to the Taliban occupation while of school age reduces a woman's probability of completing basic education by about two percentage points. The effects on educational outcomes are larger in Pashtun districts and rural areas. These findings are not due to the 1992 introduction of the provisional Islamist government that preceded the Taliban, cultural differences related to ethnicity, or varying emigration rates across provinces. The estimates are robust to differences across provinces in the number of violent events before, during, and after the Taliban occupation. Women exposed to the Taliban's radical religious rule while they were of school age are also less likely to be employed outside of the household and more likely to have an agricultural job within the household. For fertility choices, exposure to the Taliban occupation increases total number of children and lowers age at first marriage. We discuss our empirical findings against theoretical economic literature on radical religious groups (e.g., Iannaccone, 1992; Berman, 2000).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)821-841
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Comparative Economics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016


  • Fertility choices
  • Labor market outcomes
  • Schooling
  • Taliban
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics


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