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The Right to Education Act: Trends in Enrollment, Test Scores, and School Quality


  • Manisha Shah
  • Bryce Steinberg


The Right to Education (RTE) Act passed in 2009 guarantees access to free primary education to all children ages 6-14 in India. This paper investigates whether national trends in educational outcomes change around the time of this law using household surveys and administrative data. We document four trends: (1) school-going increases after the passage of RTE, (2) test scores decline dramatically after 2010, (3) school infrastructure appears to improve both before and after RTE, and (4) the number of students who have to repeat a grade falls precipitously after RTE is enacted, in line with official provisions of the law.

Suggested Citation

  • Manisha Shah & Bryce Steinberg, 2019. "The Right to Education Act: Trends in Enrollment, Test Scores, and School Quality," AEA Papers and Proceedings, American Economic Association, vol. 109, pages 232-238, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:apandp:v:109:y:2019:p:232-38
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/pandp.20191060

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hsieh, Chang-Tai & Urquiola, Miguel, 2006. "The effects of generalized school choice on achievement and stratification: Evidence from Chile's voucher program," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(8-9), pages 1477-1503, September.
    2. Shah, Manisha & Millett Steinberg, Bryce, 2015. "Workfare and Human Capital Investment: Evidence from India," IZA Discussion Papers 9486, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H52 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Education
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I25 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Economic Development
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration


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