Childhood maltreatment and educational outcomes: evidence from South Africa

Health Econ. 2015 Jul;24(7):876-94. doi: 10.1002/hec.3065. Epub 2014 May 29.


Many South African children experience maltreatment, but we know little about the effects on long-term child development. Using the only representative dataset that includes a module on childhood maltreatment for a metropolitan city in South Africa, we explore the association between different measures of childhood maltreatment and two educational outcomes (numeracy test scores and dropout). Our study provides an estimate of the association between childhood maltreatment and educational outcomes in a developing country where maltreatment is high. We control for potential confounders using a range of statistical techniques and add several robustness checks to evaluate the strength of our findings. Our results indicate that children who are maltreated suffer large adverse consequences in terms of their numeracy test scores and probability of dropout and that the estimated effects of maltreatment are larger and more consistent for the most severe type of maltreatment.

Keywords: childhood maltreatment; education.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / psychology
  • Child Abuse / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child Development*
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • South Africa
  • Young Adult