Vidya, Veda, and Varna: The Influence of Religion and Caste on Education in Rural India

Sriya Iyer, University of Cambridge
Vani K. Borooah, University of Ulster

Vidya (education), Veda (religion) and Varna (caste) are inter-linked in India. This paper examines whether, and to what extent, the enrolment of children at school in India is influenced by community norms such as religion (Hindu or Muslim) or caste (Scheduled or non-Scheduled). The econometric estimates are based on unit record data from a survey of 33,000 rural households, in 1,765 villages, from 16 states of India. The equation for the likelihood of being enrolled at school is estimated separately for boys and for girls, with the slope coefficients differing according to whether children are Hindu, Muslim or Scheduled Caste. The main findings are that the religion or caste effect depends upon the non-community circumstances in which the children are placed. Under favourable circumstances (for example, when parents are literate), the size of the community effect is negligible. Under less favourable circumstances, the size of the community effect is considerable.

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Presented in Session 110: Racial and Ethnic Differences in Schooling: International Contexts