Female Headship and Schooling Outcomes in Rural India
Summary Using nationally representative data from rural India, this study contributes to the limited literature on the educational outcomes of children living in female-headed households. Those heads can be either widows or married women; unlike most prior studies, this one controls for such heterogeneity by separately analyzing data from the two types of households. Like earlier studies, it compares the absolute differences in children's schooling outcomes across household types. Unlike earlier studies, however, it also attempts to quantify the relative improvements in children's schooling outcomes within different households that correspond to marginal improvements in households' educational and economic status. Finally, using household fixed effects, it investigates the differences in the schooling outcomes of boys and girls across the different household types. The findings concur with those of recent studies in other South Asian countries. Controlling for family background, in absolute terms, children in widow-headed households are no worse off than are those in male-headed households, and children in households headed by married females may enjoy even better schooling outcomes. It is in widow-headed households that a marginal gain in the household's condition is reflected most positively in the children's schooling outcomes. Moreover, these households do not discriminate between boys and girls.
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