Essays in Economics of Education | Shiv Nadar University
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Essays in Economics of Education

Chandan Jain, Ph.D. Scholar, Department of Economics, SoHSS; Faculty Advisor – Dr. Ashokankur Datta; Co-Advisor – Dr. Shampa Bhattacharjee

The research comprises of the following three independent chapters, these chapters analyses education outcomes and educational policy in the Indian context. 

Supply Side School Interventions for Girls in India, Effectiveness and Labour Market Outcomes

In this paper I analyse the joint impact of two girl specific supply side school interventions (NPEGEL & KGBV) in India, aimed at improving girls schooling outcomes at the elementary level, on the probability of primary and upper primary school completion as well as attending educational institution for girls in rural areas. I exploit the regional variation with regard to programme implementation in order to estimate the causal impact of the treatment using a triple difference-in-difference and difference-in-difference framework. My results suggests that exposure to both the programmes is associated with an increase in the probability of primary as well as upper primary school completion and attending educational institution. Further, different robustness checks confirm the robustness of these results to variation in primary as well upper primary school completion age as well as implementation of the mid-day meal programme. Also, I find that the benefits, in terms of greater school participation on account of exposure, have been limited to the targeted age group only and have not persisted much to the older age groups. Additionally, I examine the impact of this increase in participation in schooling by girls on labour force participation for rural women (25 to 59 year age group and with less than primary level of education) on account of within household substitution with regard to responsibility of performing domestic tasks. Using programme exposure as an instrumental variable I find a negative effect of a greater participation in school by girls on labour force participation for women, while a positive effect on participation in domestic tasks for the same, heterogeneity analysis confirms that these results varies based on the economic condition of the household. Recent literature analysing the decline in rural female labour force participation in India have found little consensus on the explanations for the observed decline. Contrary to the descriptive explanations presented in the past literature my result on the other hand focuses on causal mechanism instead and presents a different explanation compared to those discussed in the past literature.

Learning Outcomes and Access to Electricity in Rural Households in India

An advantage that India enjoys over other developing economies is its pool of younger population, but for India to actually gain from this demographic dividend, skills and learning levels of the same becomes important. However, as shown by the ASER surveys over time - basic levels of learning in the rural parts of the country continue to remain in a dismal state. An important policy question that thus arises is - what factors lead to an increase in the learning outcomes. The present paper aims to complement this discussion by examining the role of electricity access amongst rural households in affecting learning outcomes. Those households without electricity are more or less reliant on the use of kerosene for lighting purpose. Kerosene not only provides a lower level of illumination but is also associated with exposure to indoor air pollution, which in turn affects productivity and causes negative health effects as well. Given this, the present study uses the ASER 2012 round dataset to analyse the impact of access to electricity in rural households on learning outcomes of children between the age of 5 to 16 years. Using both the fixed effects and IV estimation, my results confirm that electricity access in a household is associated with an increase (of around 0.09 standard deviations) in the learning outcomes. Additionally, using the 61st round of NSSO dataset I provide evidence for the negative impact of electricity use on kerosene consumption for the rural households and a positive impact of electricity use on the educational expenditure for the same.

Dakar, are we there yet. Analysing Gender Gaps in Learning in Rural India

In the present study, I use three rounds (2009, 2012 and 2014) of ASER data on learning outcomes from rural India in order to analyse gender gaps in performance on standardized tests of reading, maths and english ability. Despite the existence of a large body of literature analysing gender gaps in learning in the international context; the study of the same remains limited in the Indian context. Further, the present data also allows us to compare these gaps for the pre and post Right to Education Act (RTE) period as well. Using siblings fixed effects estimation I find that, at the baseline level, boys outperformed girls across all the three tests for the 2009 round of survey and that these gaps have widened overtime in the post RTE period, except for the case of reading wherein girls seem to be performing better overtime. Additionally, I find that these gaps tend to decrease with an increase in mother’s level of education, while no such effect is found for the case of father’s level of education. My analysis thus suggests that, despite the educational reforms undertaken in the past one decade in India, gender differences in learning continues to exist in rural India. The same therefore implies a move further away from the goal of achieving gender equality in learning under the Dakar Framework for Action.