Quota-Based Affirmative Action in Higher Education: The Impact on Other Backward Classes in India

Journal of Development Studies, Forthcoming

74 Pages Posted: 25 Jul 2016 Last revised: 9 Jan 2019

See all articles by Rakesh Basant

Rakesh Basant

Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad

Gitanjali Sen

Shiv Nadar University

Date Written: January 4, 2019


While quota based and other affirmative action remains on the policy radar of nations faced with social inequalities, there is limited evidence informing policy choices at the national level. This paper estimates the mid-term impact of quota-based affirmative action in higher education (HE) in India implemented from 2008, which mandates a 27 percent seats to be reserved for the Other Backward Classes (OBC) in public funded institutions of HE. Exploiting the differences in participation across social groups, age cohorts and geographies with varied histories of affirmative action, our triple difference method estimates the impact of the Act by the year 2011-12. Our results indicate that southern and northcentral states that already had quotas in place for a fairly long period of time, do not contribute much in further expansion of enrolment of OBCs; instead, the eastern region, where such a policy did not exist for long has about 0.12 points improvement in enrolment. Our estimates are robust to different specifications and the impact seems to be non-existent amongst the richest. It suggests that future policy initiatives need to be more nuanced considering regional differences in policy histories, supply of institutions and extant rates of HE participation of the disadvantage sections.

Keywords: Higher education, affirmative action, caste, reservations, India

JEL Classification: H75, I23, I24, I25, I28, J15, O15

Suggested Citation

Basant, Rakesh and Sen, Gitanjali, Quota-Based Affirmative Action in Higher Education: The Impact on Other Backward Classes in India (January 4, 2019). Journal of Development Studies, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2814128 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2814128

Rakesh Basant

Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad ( email )

Ahmedabad 380015, Gujarat

Gitanjali Sen (Contact Author)

Shiv Nadar University ( email )

NH-91, Village- Chithera, Tehsil-Dadri,
Dist. Gautam Buddha Nagar, UP
Gautam Buddha Nagar, Uttar Pradesh

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