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India shining and Bharat drowning: Comparing two Indian states to the worldwide distribution in mathematics achievement

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  • Das, Jishnu
  • Zajonc, Tristan

Abstract

Increasing evidence suggests that the level and distribution of cognitive skills is more important to economic development than absolute measures of schooling attainment, and that income and skill inequality are inextricably linked. Yet for most of the developing world no internationally comparable estimates of cognitive skills exist. This paper uses student answers to publicly released questions from an international testing agency together with statistical methods from Item Response Theory to place secondary students from two Indian states--Orissa and Rajasthan--on a worldwide distribution of mathematics achievement. These two states fall below 43 of the 51 countries for which data exist. The bottom 5% of children rank higher than the bottom 5% in only three countries--South Africa, Ghana and Saudi Arabia. But not all students test poorly. Inequality in the test-score distribution for both states is next only to South Africa. The combination of India's size and large variance in achievement give both the perceptions that India is shining even as Bharat, the vernacular for India, is drowning. How India's development unfolds will depend critically on how the skill distribution evolves and how low- and high-skilled workers interact in the labor market.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Development Economics.

Volume (Year): 92 (2010)
Issue (Month): 2 (July)
Pages: 175-187

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Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:92:y:2010:i:2:p:175-187

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/devec

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Keywords: Schooling Test scores Inequality Item response Growth;

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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Geniuses and economic development
    by Ajay Shah in Ajay Shah's blog on 2010-09-11 21:54:00
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Cited by:
  1. Mohammad Niaz Asadullah, Nazmul Chaudhury, 2013. "Primary Schooling, Student Learning, and School Quality in Rural Bangladesh-Working Paper 349," Working Papers 349, Center for Global Development.
  2. Pritchett, Lant & Beatty, Amanda, 2012. "The Negative Consequences of Overambitious Curricula in Developing Countries," Working Paper Series rwp12-035, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  3. Asadullah, Niaz, 2014. "The Effect of Islamic Secondary School Attendance on Academic Achievement," IZA Discussion Papers 8233, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Emran, M. Shahe & Shilpi, Forhad, 2012. "Gender, geography and generations : intergenerational educational mobility in post-reform India," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6055, The World Bank.
  5. Das, Jishnu & Zajonc, Tristan, 2008. "India shining and Bharat drowning: comparing two Indian states to the worldwide distribution in mathematics achievement," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4644, The World Bank.

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