Economics serving society

G-MonD Note n°8: “Affirmative Action, Education and Gender: Evidence from India”

Note n°8 - January 2014

Title: “Affirmative Action, Education and Gender: Evidence from India”
Author: Guilhem Cassan

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Since its Independence, India has implemented affirmative action programs, also called « reservations », to protect minority groups such as the Scheduled Castes (SC), the Scheduled Tribes (ST), or the Other Backward Classes (OBC). Those programs consist mainly in quotas in public employment, legislative assemblies, higher education institutions and a variety of other programs.
However, no matter how widespread and old those programs are, they are still strongly debated. Particularly in education, in a context of intense competition among students to enter higher education institutions, affirmative action policies are heavily contested. Nonetheless, quite surprisingly, the effect of those policies on education has been under researched. In this study, I use a unique historical event taking place in the 1970’s to evaluate the effect of access to affirmative action program on school attainment. I show that while males see the number of years of schooling increase by up to 0.8 years, females do not seem to benefit from affirmative action programs to prologue their studies.