Can a Mandate for Inclusion Change School Choices for Disadvantaged Parents? – Evidence from Urban India
58 Pages Posted: 11 Jan 2019
Date Written: October 20, 2018
Can inequalities in private school access be bridged through a government mandate? Enacted in 2009, India’s “Right to Education” mandated almost all private schools to admit at least 25 percent of children in their entry class from “economically weak and socially disadvantaged” groups. In this paper, we investigate the impact of the mandate on the nature of schools chosen by targeted households in one of the largest cities in India. Applying a double-difference estimation strategy, we compare the school choices of the targeted children and their elder siblings (not eligible for the mandate) between the households who received and those who failed to receive an allotment under the mandate. In addition, we compare schools that the households applied to but were not allotted under the mandate with the schools they are currently attending.
The empirical results suggest that the mandate enables households to access schools that are more likely to be private, use English as a medium of instruction, located further away from home and charge a higher tuition fee compared to the schools that they might have accessed in the absence of the mandate. Given that these are all attributes typically associated with privilege, the mandate arguably has expanded the choices for these households. The effects are larger for households whose fallback option was government schools. But within the targeted populations, more advantaged households are more likely to apply and receive admissions via the mandate. Further, even though choice set of schools has expanded, the expanded set doesn’t include schools that charge relatively higher tuition (i.e. elite schools). Our findings speak to the transformative potential of such mandates in environments with poor track records of policy implementation and the challenges in strengthening them.
Keywords: India; Right to Education; Section 12(1)(c); School Choice; Private Schools
JEL Classification: I21; I24; I28
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation