The Incidence and Effects of Affirmative Action: Evidence from Quotas in Private Schools in India
We combine survey and administrative data, with lottery-based allocation of seats in oversubscribed schools, to study the effects of India's main school desegregation initiative --- a 25% quota in private schools for disadvantaged students with fees reimbursed by the state.
Receiving a quota seat makes students more likely to attend a private school (by 24 percentage points), and to attend schools that are more expensive and more preferred. However, over three-quarters of the applicants who were not allotted a seat also attend a private school; consequently, we estimate that 70% of the total expenditure on each seat is inframarginal to school choice. This inframarginality is driven by applicants being drawn disproportionately, within eligible caste groups, from more-educated and economically better-off households.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, a period of severe income shocks and school closures, a quota seat insured students against withdrawing from schooling (and from private schools), led to greater availability of remote educational inputs, and higher test scores (by 0.19 SD). The policy delivers clear gains for direct beneficiaries but is unlikely to affect school integration without broadening the pool of applicants.
Authors: Mauricio Romero (ITAM) Abhijet Singh (Stockholm School of Economics)
Speaker: Mauricio Romero is assistant professor at ITAM in Mexico City.
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