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Primary Education in India: Prospects of meeting the MDG Target


  • Sonia Bhalotra
  • Bernarda Zamora



This paper uses two large repeated cross-sections, one for the early 1990’s, and one for the late 1990’s, to describe growth in school enrolment and completion rates for boys and girls in India, and to explore the extent to which enrolment and completion rates have grown over time. It decomposes this growth into components due to change in the characteristics that determine schooling, and another associated with changes in the responsiveness of schooling to given characteristics. Our results caution against the common practice of using current data to make future projections on the assumption that the model parameters are stable. The analysis nevertheless performs illustrative simulations relevant to the question of whether India will be able to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of realising universal primary education by the year 2015. The simulations suggest that India will achieve universal attendance, but that primary school completion rates will not exhibit much progress.

Suggested Citation

  • Sonia Bhalotra & Bernarda Zamora, 2008. "Primary Education in India: Prospects of meeting the MDG Target," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 08/190, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  • Handle: RePEc:bri:cmpowp:08/190

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Harold Alderman & John Hoddinott & Bill Kinsey, 2006. "Long term consequences of early childhood malnutrition," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(3), pages 450-474, July.
    2. Timothy Besley & Robin Burgess, 2002. "The Political Economy of Government Responsiveness: Theory and Evidence from India," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1415-1451.
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    6. Hanan G. Jacoby & Emmanuel Skoufias, 1997. "Risk, Financial Markets, and Human Capital in a Developing Country," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 64(3), pages 311-335.
    7. Gary S. Becker & Nigel Tomes, 1994. "Human Capital and the Rise and Fall of Families," NBER Chapters,in: Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis with Special Reference to Education (3rd Edition), pages 257-298 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    10. Arnaud Chevalier, 2004. "Parental education and child’s education : a natural experiment," Working Papers 200414, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
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    Cited by:

    1. M. Niaz Asadullah & Uma Kambhampati & Florencia Lopez Boo, 2014. "Social divisions in school participation and attainment in India: 1983–2004," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(4), pages 869-893.

    More about this item


    Millennium Development Goals; primary schooling; attendance; completion rates; gender; India; decomposition;

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • J18 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Public Policy

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