Working Paper: Demand for Private Schooling in India

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Working Paper: Demand for Private Schooling in India

This paper by Amita Chudgar and Benjamin Creed examines whether disparities in access to private schools diminish in villages with greater availability of private schools. In India the authors note that female students and students from the most disadvantaged families have historically had the least access to private schools. To examine this question, the authors analyze data from the Indian Human Development Survey I (2004-5) of 41,554 rural Indian households and 1,503 villages.

By: Amita Chudgar and Benjamin Creed
Working Paper No. 222

Private schools, including low-fee private schools that target the poor, have grown rapidly across the developing world. Private school advocates argue that this expansion of the private sector provides quality educational options to families that historically have been denied access to good schools. Thus, proponents argue that expanding school choice could reduce disparities in access. However, some critics argue that advantaged families are more likely to pursue private schooling options and thus are more likely to benefit from the expanding supply of private schools. So according to this view, inequities in private school access may persist regardless of increased supply. This debate is particularly relevant in India as the Indian Parliament passed the Right to Education bill, which requires private schools to set aside seats for disadvantaged students and subsidizes their cost of attendance.

This paper by Amita Chudgar and Benjamin Creed examines whether disparities in access to private schools diminish in villages with greater availability of private schools. In India the authors note that female students and students from the most disadvantaged families have historically had the least access to private schools. To examine this question, the authors analyze data from the Indian Human Development Survey I (2004-5) of 41,554 rural Indian households and 1,503 villages.

The authors conduct a series of analyses to investigate which demographic and socioeconomic factors drive demand for and supply of private schools. Overall, the results suggest that even in villages with greater private school presence, disparities in access to private schools may remain. Consistent with prior research, advantaged households exhibit higher demand for private schooling. On the supply side, the results suggest that private schools tend to cluster in areas with more resources and infrastructure. Finally, the researchers show that in villages with more private schools all families are more likely to enroll their children, including their female children, in private schools, but--more importantly--the disparity in enrollment between children from advantaged and disadvantaged families persists. One implication of the study is that existing disparities in access to private schools, including private schools that aim to serve the poor, are unlikely to disappear without a more direct policy effort that focuses on reducing such inequities.

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Published Wednesday, Jul. 2, 2014

Working Paper: Demand for Private Schooling in India

By: Amita Chudgar and Benjamin Creed
Working Paper No. 222

Private schools, including low-fee private schools that target the poor, have grown rapidly across the developing world. Private school advocates argue that this expansion of the private sector provides quality educational options to families that historically have been denied access to good schools. Thus, proponents argue that expanding school choice could reduce disparities in access. However, some critics argue that advantaged families are more likely to pursue private schooling options and thus are more likely to benefit from the expanding supply of private schools. So according to this view, inequities in private school access may persist regardless of increased supply. This debate is particularly relevant in India as the Indian Parliament passed the Right to Education bill, which requires private schools to set aside seats for disadvantaged students and subsidizes their cost of attendance.

This paper by Amita Chudgar and Benjamin Creed examines whether disparities in access to private schools diminish in villages with greater availability of private schools. In India the authors note that female students and students from the most disadvantaged families have historically had the least access to private schools. To examine this question, the authors analyze data from the Indian Human Development Survey I (2004-5) of 41,554 rural Indian households and 1,503 villages.

The authors conduct a series of analyses to investigate which demographic and socioeconomic factors drive demand for and supply of private schools. Overall, the results suggest that even in villages with greater private school presence, disparities in access to private schools may remain. Consistent with prior research, advantaged households exhibit higher demand for private schooling. On the supply side, the results suggest that private schools tend to cluster in areas with more resources and infrastructure. Finally, the researchers show that in villages with more private schools all families are more likely to enroll their children, including their female children, in private schools, but--more importantly--the disparity in enrollment between children from advantaged and disadvantaged families persists. One implication of the study is that existing disparities in access to private schools, including private schools that aim to serve the poor, are unlikely to disappear without a more direct policy effort that focuses on reducing such inequities.

View paper

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