Effects of Development on Gender Inequality in School Enrollment in India

Sonya Rastogi, University of Maryland
Aparna Sundaram, University of Maryland
Reeve Vanneman, University of Maryland

We examine the relationship between economic development and gender differences in school enrollments as a joint function of household (wealth) and district-level (school availability) characteristics. Using household level data for 52,439 children ages 7-18 in rural India and district level measures of development for 195 districts, we find evidence for most of the expected household and district-level relationships that explain the development - gender equality relationship. More surprisingly, we find little evidence of the development-equality relationship itself. The separate development processes do not add up to a development effect because each beneficial process is counteracted by other processes, less often recognized, that retard gender equality. For example, district wealth is associated with more household landownership which, in India, exacerbates gender inequalities. The results demonstrate the advantages of a more explicitly multilevel framework, a common strategy for developed country analyses of educational outcomes, but less common for developing countries.

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Presented in Poster Session 3: Families, Parenting, Adolescents, and Children