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Redistributing Educational Attainment: Evidence from an Unusual Policy Experiment in India

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  • Joydeep Roy

    (Economic Policy Institute)

Abstract

In 1983 the ruling communists in the Indian state of West Bengal, with the avowed objective of making education more accessible, abolished the teaching of English at the primary level from public schools. I argue that the abolition can be looked upon as a lowering of academic standards, and that the reform is essentially redistributive in nature. Using two large cross-sectional data sets from India I investigate how it affected educational outcomes in West Bengal. Somewhat surprisingly, I find no evidence of a positive effect of the reform, even on the poorest income quartiles. Moreover, private school attendance went up in the rural areas, and there was a large increase in expenditure on private coaching. Both of these indicate that those who can afford to do so were supplementing the education of their children by private purchases, since a knowledge of English has significant benefits later in life. Ironically, the program may have increased the gap between the poorer classes and the others, something it was designed to close.

Suggested Citation

  • Joydeep Roy, 2004. "Redistributing Educational Attainment: Evidence from an Unusual Policy Experiment in India," Development and Comp Systems 0412001, EconWPA.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpdc:0412001
    Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 49
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    File URL: http://econwpa.repec.org/eps/dev/papers/0412/0412001.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. repec:pri:rpdevs:deaton_tarozzi_prices_poverty is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Angrist, Joshua D & Lavy, Victor, 1997. "The Effect of a Change in Language of Instruction on the Returns to Schooling in Morocco," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages 48-76, January.
    3. Betts, Julian R, 1998. "The Impact of Educational Standards on the Level and Distribution of Earnings," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 266-275, March.
    4. Costrell, Robert M, 1994. "A Simple Model of Educational Standards," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 956-971, September.
    5. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Paul J. Gertler & Maitreesh Ghatak, 2002. "Empowerment and Efficiency: Tenancy Reform in West Bengal," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(2), pages 239-280, April.
    6. repec:pri:rpdevs:deaton_tarozzi_prices_poverty.pdf is not listed on IDEAS
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Education Policy; Academic Standards; Inequality and Redistribution;

    JEL classification:

    • H4 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods
    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education

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