Can regional trade agreements negatively impact primary schooling?

Alberto Chong, Carla Srebot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle in a journalpeer-review


Using a differences-in-differences approach we study the link between regional trade agreements (RTAs) and completion of primary education in developing countries and find that the causal link is negative and economically significant. Engaging in RTAs between 1980 and 2016 decreases primary education completion rate by approximately 0.757 percentage points. Our findings are robust to the inclusion of both falsification and placebo tests. More importantly, when applying event studies, we find that the equal trends assumption holds. We explain our findings as the likely result of increased opportunity costs in households whose adult members tend to be unskilled and relatively poor, as they have higher incentives of having their children work either outside or inside their households.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-339
Number of pages23
JournalOpen Economies Review
Issue number2
Early online date29 Jul 2022
StatePublished - Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Causality
  • Child labor
  • Developing countries
  • Free trade, Primary schooling
  • I25
  • J23
  • O10


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