Intra-household gender discrimination in school choice: evidence from private schooling in India

Soham Sahoo, Indian Statistical Institute

This paper explores the incidence of gender discrimination within households in the decision of private versus government school choice in India. Recently, there has been a rapid rise in the number of private schools operating in rural areas. Households perceive these fee-charging private schools to be of better quality than government schools which are mostly free. If the future returns from investing in sons' education seem to be higher than daughters' education, then households may want to provide their sons, rather than daughters, with better quality education by sending them to private schools. Using a three-period longitudinal data on rural households, this paper estimates a correlated unobserved effects model with selection correction and finds that households indeed discriminate against girls in favour of boys for private school enrollment. The gender gap in private school enrollment is around six percentage points. This gap is higher among younger children and is rising over time. This finding indicates that the quality of government schools may have a role to play in promoting gender parity in education.

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Presented in Session 6: Investing in the quality of children