Are girls the fairer sex in India? Revisiting intra-household allocation of education expenditure
This paper revisits the issue of the intra-household allocation of education expenditure with the recently available India Human Development Survey which refers to 2005 and covers both urban and rural areas. In addition to the traditional Engel method, the paper utilizes a Hurdle model to disentangle the decision to enroll (incur any educational expenditure) and the decision of how much to spend on education, conditional on enrolling. Finally the paper also uses household fixed effects to examine whether any gender bias is a within-household phenomenon. The paper finds that the traditional Engel method often fails to pick up gender bias where it exists not only because of the aggregation of data at the household-level but also because of aggregation of the two decisions in which gender can have opposite signs. It is found that pro-male gender bias exists in the primary school age group for several states but that the incidence of gender bias increases with age – it is greater in the middle school age group (10-14 years) and greater still in the secondary school age group (15-19 years). However, gender discrimination in the secondary school age group 15-19 takes place mainly through the decision to enroll boys and not girls, and not through differential expenditure on girls and boys. The results also suggest that the extent of pro-male gender bias in educational expenditure is substantially greater in rural than in urban areas. Finally, our results suggest that an important mechanism through which households spend less on girls than boys is by sending sons to fee-charging private schools and daughters to the fee-free government-funded schools.
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