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Measuring Discrimination in Education

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  • Rema Hanna
  • Leigh Linden

Abstract

In this paper, we illustrate a methodology to measure discrimination in educational contexts. In India, we ran an exam competition through which children compete for a large financial prize. We recruited teachers to grade the exams. We then randomly assigned 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. We find 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, we find 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Rema Hanna & Leigh Linden, 2009. "Measuring Discrimination in Education," NBER Working Papers 15057, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15057 Note: CH ED LS
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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, pages 523-538.
    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

    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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