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Remember When It Rained: The Elusiveness of Gender Discrimination in Indian School Enrollment

a PSC Small Fund Research Project

Investigator:   Laura Zimmermann

Girls in India have significantly lower school enrollment rates and test scores than boys. While the gender gap has decreased due to major policy programs by the Indian government, important differences in educational outcomes persist, suggesting that girls are systematically disadvantaged in the access to education in India. The causes and mechanisms of this gender gap remain relatively poorly understood, however. The literature has suggested a wide variety of potential channels that lead to worse schooling outcomes for girls, including differences in opportunity costs, returns to education, monetary costs and parental tastes. My research aims to shed light at the importance of some of these proposed mechanisms. I analyze the impact of rainfall shocks, which proxy for income shocks in agricultural areas, on school enrollment in rural India. In addition to testing whether a child’s vulnerability to weather shocks is age- and gender-specific, information on educational inputs and household characteristics allows me to disentangle the monetary cost channel from other explanations like opportunity costs and parental preferences.

Funding Period: 11/01/2012 to 12/31/2013

Country of Focus: India

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