The short-term impact of a malaria elimination project on school outcomes: evidence from Southern Mozambique

We exploit an ongoing malaria elimination project implemented in Magude district (Southern Mozambique) that started in 2015 as a quasi-experiment to estimate the impact of malaria on school outcomes. We use as control a neighbouring district (Manhiça) with similar socio-economic and epidemiological characteristics. Using a difference-in-differences approach, we first show that malaria incidence significantly dropped due to the intervention in the treated district. We then examine whether this positive health shock had an impact on school achievement. Using previously unexplored school registers, we generated a dataset on school attendance and grades for 9,848 primary-school students from 9 schools (4 in the intervention district and 5 in the control district). We find that the elimination project led to a significant increase in both school attendance and grades, by 28% and 2%, respectively. Our results are robust across several specification checks. These findings provide solid evidence on the negative impact of malaria on human capital accumulation and suggest strong economic arguments for investing in its elimination.