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Measuring Discrimination in Education


  • Rema Hanna


  • Leigh Linden



In this paper, a methodology to measure discrimination in educational contexts is illustrated. In India, exam competition is run through which children compete for a large financial prize and teachers have been recruited to grade the exams.Then there is a random assignment of child “characteristics†(age, gender, and caste) to the cover sheets of the exams to ensure that there is no systematic relationship between the characteristics observed by the teachers and the quality of the exams. It has been found out that teachers give exams that are assigned to be lower caste scores that are about 0.03 to 0.09 standard deviations lower than exams that are assigned to be high caste. The effect is small relative to the real differences in scores between the high and lower caste children. Low-performing, low caste children and top-performing females tend to lose out the most due to discrimination. Interestingly, findings also suggest that the discrimination against low caste students is driven by low caste teachers, while teachers who belong to higher caste groups do not appear to discriminate at all. This result runs counter to the previous literature, which tends to find that individuals discriminate in favor of members of their own groups.[Working Paper no. 230]

Suggested Citation

  • Rema Hanna & Leigh Linden, 2010. "Measuring Discrimination in Education," Working Papers id:2541, eSocialSciences.
  • Handle: RePEc:ess:wpaper:id:2541 Note: Institutional Papers

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Pramod K. Nayar, 2008. "Affective Cosmopolitanism Ashis Nandy’s Utopia," Working Papers id:1732, eSocialSciences.
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    Cited by:

    1. van Ewijk, Reyn, 2011. "Same work, lower grade? Student ethnicity and teachers' subjective assessments," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 1045-1058, October.
    2. Amine Ouazad & Lionel Page, 2012. "Students’ Perceptions of Teacher Biases: Experimental Economics in Schools," CEE Discussion Papers 0133, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
    3. Hinnerich, Björn Tyrefors & Höglin, Erik & Johannesson, Magnus, 2011. "Ethnic Discrimination in High School Grading: Evidence from a Field Experiment," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 733, Stockholm School of Economics, revised 27 Jun 2011.
    4. Maresa Sprietsma, 2013. "Discrimination in grading: experimental evidence from primary school teachers," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 45(1), pages 523-538, August.
    5. Jain, Tarun & Narayan, Tulika, 2009. "Incentive to discriminate? An experimental investigation of teacher incentives in India," MPRA Paper 18672, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item


    methodology; discrimination; educational contexts; large financial prize; teachers; characteristicsage; gender; and caste; cover sheets; exams; favor;

    JEL classification:

    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination

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