Do Affirmative Action Policies Increase Educational Attainment? Examining the Effects of Caste Based Policies in India

Ankur Sarin, University of Chicago

The efficacy of affirmative action programs in reducing socio-economic disparities in India has been a topic of much discussion but little empirical examination. In this paper I examine the effects of a program to reserve 27 percent of all jobs in the Central Government on the educational attainment of children belonging to castes collectively labeled as 'Other Backward Classes (OBCs)'. Using data from two rounds of the National Family Health Survey and employing a difference-in-difference-in-difference regression framework, I find that the affirmative action program increases the educational attainment of OBC teenagers in states that did not have a substantial affirmative action program for OBCs prior to the one introduced by the central government. Furthermore, contrary to popular belief the results suggest that the benefits are not limited to the most advantageous amongst the OBCs. Instead, the least advantaged benefit the most.

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Presented in Poster Session 6: Applied Demography, Methods, Migration, Labor and Education, Gender, and Race and Ethnicity