Does Affirmative Action Incentivize Schooling? Evidence from India

53 Pages Posted: 18 Apr 2013 Last revised: 31 Dec 2018

See all articles by Gaurav Khanna

Gaurav Khanna

University of California, San Diego (UCSD)

Date Written: July 1, 2016


Affirmative action raises the likelihood of getting into college or obtaining a government job for minority groups in India. I study how this change in future prospects affects schooling incentives, and find that minority group students are incentivized to stay in school longer. This approach is novel in that it focuses on the incentives affirmative action provides to those who are not yet eligible for benefits per se. Data from state commission reports allow me to use a regression discontinuity (RD) and difference-in-discontinuities analysis, estimated along a socio-economic index. These results are supported at the national level by a difference-in-differences design, and using variation in state-level policies. Together these estimators consistently show that affirmative action policies incentivize about 0.8 additional years of education for the average minority group student, and 1.2 more years of education for a student from a marginal minority sub-group. Given the debates about the effectiveness of such policies, it is particularly important for both researchers and policymakers to account for incentive effects when evaluating affirmative action programs.

Keywords: Affirmative Action, Education, India, Reservations, Quotas, OBCs

JEL Classification: O15, I2, I3, J6, H8

Suggested Citation

Khanna, Gaurav, Does Affirmative Action Incentivize Schooling? Evidence from India (July 1, 2016). Available at SSRN: or

Gaurav Khanna (Contact Author)

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Mail Code 0502
La Jolla, CA 92093-0112
United States


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