Measuring Discrimination in Education

51 Pages Posted: 8 Jun 2009 Last revised: 24 Aug 2010

See all articles by Rema Hanna

Rema Hanna

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Leigh L. Linden

The University of Texas at Austin; National Bureau of Economic Research; Jameel Poverty Action Lab; Innovations for Poverty Action; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA); Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development (BREAD)

Date Written: June 2009

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

Hanna, Rema and Linden, Leigh L., Measuring Discrimination in Education (June 2009). NBER Working Paper No. w15057. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1415219

Rema Hanna (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Leigh L. Linden

The University of Texas at Austin ( email )

Austin, TX 78712
United States
+1 (512) 475-8556 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.leighlinden.com

National Bureau of Economic Research ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
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HOME PAGE: http://www.leighlinden.com

Jameel Poverty Action Lab ( email )

30 Wadsworth Street, E53-320
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.leighlinden.com

Innovations for Poverty Action ( email )

1731 Connecticut Ave, 4th floor
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United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.leighlinden.com

Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development (BREAD) ( email )

Duke University
Durham, NC 90097
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.leighlinden.com

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