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Can Greater Access to Education Be Inequitable? New Evidence from India's Right to Education Act

Chirantan Chatterjee, Eric A. Hanushek, Shreekanth Mahendiran

NBER Working Paper No. 27377
Issued in June 2020
NBER Program(s):Development Economics, Economics of Education, Labor Studies, Public Economics

India took a decisive step towards universal basic education by proclaiming a constitutionally-guaranteed Right to Education (RTE) Act in 2009 that called for full access of children aged 6-14 to free schooling. This paper considers the offsetting effects to RTE from induced expansion of private tutoring in the educationally competitive districts of India. We develop a unique database of registrations of new private educational institutions offering tutorial services by local district between 2001-2015. We estimate the causal impact of RTE on private supplemental education by comparing the growth of these private tutorial institutions in districts identified a priori as having very competitive educational markets to those that had less competitive educational markets. We find a strong impact of RTE on the private tutoring market and show that this holds across alternative definitions of highly competitive districts and a variety of robustness checks, sensitivity analyses, and controls. Finally, we provide descriptive evidence that these private tutoring schools do increase the achievement (and competitiveness) of students able to afford them.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w27377

 
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